The streaming services appear to be moving past the awkward content stage of the past year or so with production getting back to full steam. Netflix never ran out of fresh offerings, but now, the rest of the top services are starting to catch up and be real contenders. Disney+ proved that they can still excel in the Marvel Cinematic Universe game on the small screen, and this week, John Stamos’ new basketball-coach-redemption show lands with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier moving towards some final confrontations; and the service is offering a soothing new National Geographic series, along with the continuation of The Mighty Ducks revival series. For that reason, Disney+ easily crushes most of the competition this week, but it’s a close one with this week’s closest competitor, which would be HBO Max.
The WarnerMedia streamer puts up a damn good fight with a new true crime limited series and some informative (if a bit cheeseball) fun with the new Mark Wahlberg show. There’s also a Cartoon Network show and (on Sunday) the debut of HBO’s new limited series starring Kate Winslet. So, not too shabby! The same goes for Amazon Prime and Apple TV+, both of which have a few new options, and of course, Netflix, Hulu, and Paramount+ step up with their own fresh offerings this week as well, which include a Chadwick Boseman documentary film and the conclusion of a Darren Star show. Oh, and AMC+ has a new spy series and more of Gangs Of London. Here are the best offerings of this week, and yes, Disney+ wins this one.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Disney+ series) — Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes are still doing their buddy action-comedy thing, but things accelerated quickly last week with John Walker basically turning Captain America into a villain. So, there’s a damn fine mess to be cleaned up, and hopefully, we’ll see Sharon Carter kicking ass again before the season finishes? There also needs to be some sort of are-they-good-or-bad conclusion with the Flag Smashers, and Bucky should go to Aruba at the end of all this.
Big Shot (Disney+ series) — David E. Kelley co-created and executive produces this series starring John Stamos as a down-on-his luck, ousted NCAA coach who’s attempting to get back on his (angry) feet with a ritzy private high-school gig. While reluctantly seeking redemption, Coach learns that his new team benefits from him showing some actual emotion beyond rage and stoicism, so he must — gasp — learn how to be vulnerable and empathetic. He might actually become a better person, too. The show co-stars Yvette Nicole Brown, who I hope gives Coach a really hard time (dude seems like he deserves it).
Earth Moods (Nat Geo series on Disney+) — This five-part series launches this weekend to show us various “moods” from the corners of the globe to soothe us with the natural world. Each one (from glaciers to deserts to rain forests to cities) will take us on voyage to help our minds reset. Sounds fantastic.
The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers (Disney+ series) — Emilio Estevez is back in this new-generation revival of the classic films. Co-starring Lauren Graham and Brady Noon, the Mighty Ducks junior hockey team is now a powerhouse in its division, and it’s brutal in selecting who can make the cut. Estevez is still the Ducks’ original coach, and he’s helping a new team of underdogs after the New Ducks boot a 12-year-old boy.
Wahl Street (HBO Max series) — Take a peek behind the Wahlcurtain of Mark Wahlberg’s empire — and settle in for some business and life lessons — including a rigorous film schedule, of course, and several successful businesses (a clothing line, a gym studio, Wahlburgers, and his production company). The season was filmed amid the global pandemic and includes appearances of his real-life entourage.
Pray, Obey, Kill (HBO series on HBO Max) — Catch a double-dose installment of a five-part documentary series from investigative journalists Anton Berg and Martin Johnson in a project directed by The Bridge‘s Henrik Georgsson. Follow along while Berg and Johnson retrace what happened on a frigid night when a small Swedish village saw a woman murdered and a neighbor shot before a nanny confessed to the acts of violence while citing a strange motivation. This led to a scandalous tale of a love triangle and a link to a prior suspicious death. Yet is the whole mess tied to the local tight-knit Pentecostal congregation and its charismatic leader, who referred to herself as “The Bride of Christ”? Get ready for an unpredictable true-crime ride.
Our Towns (HBO series on HBO Max) — This film (which is based upon journalists James and Deborah Fallows’ book, Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America) zeroes in on how local initiatives lead to change that spark a different future.
Mare Of Easttown (HBO series streaming on HBO Max) — Kate Winslet returns not only to TV but to HBO (a decade after her award-winning Mildred Pierce turn) to star as a hard-vaping detective in a small town where she both portrays and elevates the “complicated” cop trope. She’s captivating while digging into a murder mystery that has rocked her small town and caused the community to feel utterly claustrophobic. Evan Peters portrays her young, whippersnapper partner on the case, and he’s electric, as are the wonderfully sarcastic Jean Smart (as Mare’s mom) and an understated Guy Pearce (as the maybe-love interest). This show will suck you in, and you won’t mind one bit.
The Nevers (HBO series streaming on HBO Max) — This Joss Whedon-created show offers an intriguing setup about a group of “orphans” (almost exclusively women) who find themselves “gifted” with supernaturally-powered abilities. Although there’s far too many plot lines (and some plot holes), there’s also a fair amount of butt-kicking, and the atmosphere is killer. The embattled Buffy and Firefly creator officially exited the series last year, but you won’t be able to forget his presence. Whether that hurts or helps the show remains to be seen.
Infinity Train: Book Four (HBO Max series) — This show might be seeing the final season, too, for this Cartoon Network series. Two childhood best friends have a falling out and find themselves aboard the Infinity Train, where a strange concierge helps them on their journey, and the friends must work together or be stuck forever on the train.
Spy City (AMC+ original series) — Preacher‘s Dominic Cooper stars as an English spy in 1960s Berlin, right before the Berlin Wall goes up. He’s tasked with locating a traitor among the Allies or in the UK embassy, and he’s possibly surrounded by spies and double agents. He’s also dancing around the threat of nuclear war while American, British, and French troops are barely separated from their East German and Soviet counterparts. Good luck?
Gangs of London (Sky Atlantic/AMC+ series) — AMC+ viewers who already enjoyed the first season of this series and may even be tempted to revisit the turbulent power struggle all over again as it hits the traditional TV schedule. Fans of the beloved Peaky Blinders, as well, should pay attention because this new series makes Peaky seem like a pleasant walk in London’s Hyde Park. Warring gangs and a power vacuum and a city on its knees are only part of the attraction here. The rest is down to character-based writing and a wonderful cast that embodies a decidedly unglamorous take on warring criminal elements, all of which will prove to be addictive for anyone who loves The Sopranos or any of Marty Scorsese’s mob pictures.
Frank of Ireland (Amazon Prime series) — Two of the world-famous Gleeson brothers (Domhnall and Brian) join forces about a man who’s fruitlessly hoping to get some respect after he finally decides to grow up. Brian portrays Frank, and Domhnall portrays a character that’s named, uh, Doofus. Their brand of comedy is rather absurd and juvenile at times, but there’s a heart to this show if you can hang through sophomoric jokes. This is certain: this show will make you forget about the serious things in life.
Them (Amazon Prime limited series) — This story’s sure to remind horror fans of Jordan Peele’s Us in more ways than a few, and for good reason. This show promises to explore American-bred terror with an anthologized approach, so the first season is all about the 1950s. Allison Pill’s reliably frightening, and here, she’s terrorizing a Black family, who moves into an all-white LA neighborhood and the welcome committee isn’t there for them, that’s for sure. Soon enough, the horror show begins; and both from a reality-based and a supernatural standpoint, this is pure nightmare fuel.
Invincible (Amazon Prime series) — This animated romp drops a new episode and pleases both fans of The Boys and The Walking Dead, and the latter reference has everything to do with the source material by Robert Kirkman. Invincible is an ultraviolent deconstruction of the superhero, and yes, we’ve seen plenty of dismantling already, but this story has heart. Stephen Yeun makes a fantastic leading man here, and the cast (J.K. Simmons, Sandra Oh, Seth Rogen, Walton Goggins, Jason Mantzoukas, Zazie Beetz, Zachary Quinto, Mark Hamill, and several TWD names) is ridiculously good.
Mythic Quest: Everlight (Apple TV+ series) — Ahead of official Season 2 launch, this second pandemic special drops on Rob McElhenney and crew upon their return to the office. Yep, it is Everlight party time, and it’s sure to be plenty awkward as they navigate a return to the office amid you-know-what that’s still happening. There’s a LARP (Live Action Role-Play) tournament happening, and Sir Anthony Hopkins is sort-of on hand for voice work.
The Year Earth Changed (Apple TV+ film) — This is undoubtedly a timely documentary special that covers the year of lockdown in a way that you’ve never seen before. Nature has its way in deserted cities and suburbs, and before all is said and done, viewers will be able to observe how changes in human behavior (beach closings, less cruise ship traffic, etc.) can make planet Earth unbelievably happy. The project’s narrated by Sir David Attenborough as a love letter of sorts, all to show how nature can bounce back, and hopefully, so can humanity.
Chadwick Boseman: Portrait Of An Artist (Netflix documentary) — Following the Black Panther and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom star’s too-soon death last August, the streamer fathered an all-star team for this documentary that aims to explore “Boseman’s extraordinary commitment to his craft [and] an intimate look at the Oscar-nominated actor’s artistry and the acting process which informed his transformative performances.” Settle in for a long list of participants, including Viola Davis, Danai Gurira, Spike Lee, Phylicia Rashad, and Glynn Turman. This one will be available for a limited 30-day window, so don’t let it languish in your queue for too long.
Ride Or Die (Netflix film) — Two women take a road trip together. Sound familiar? Well, it’s a pretty Thelma and Louise vibe with one killing for love while the other made her do it, and of course, a chaotic journey follows. No spoilers here, but this story’s a lot deeper than it seems from this brief discussion, and as it turns out, these women have known each other for quite some time, and by the end of the movie, they’ll be even closer.
My Love: Six Stories of True Love (Netflix limited series) — This docuseries spins off from an acclaimed Korean documentary (of nearly the same name) into a global focus, which sees local filmmakers (in different countries) follow a couple for a year of their marriages. From Tokyo to India, Spain, and the United States, these couples might just show us the secret to forever love.
Why Did You Kill Me? (Netflix film) — This chilling true-crime documentary film follows a mother’s search for both justice and revenge after her daughter (24-year-old Crystal Theobald) is killed. The mother uses MySpace to investigate the crime, and there’s immense fallout for multiple families as a result.
Dad Stop Embarrassing Me! (Netflix series) Jamie Foxx is now playing a dad, y’all. He’s doing full-time duties for a teenage daughter while juggling business ownership and some semblance of a personal life. Good luck, Jamie Foxx, because life is total chaos, so you might as well embrace that face. The series also stars Kyla-Drew (as the lucky daughter who gets to laugh at dad), David Alan Grier, and Porscha Coleman.
The Circle: Season 2 (Netflix series) The social-media-focused reality show continues with plenty of shade, twists, shade, turn, and more twists. This season, eight fresh contestants will attempt to figure out who is catfishing and who is real. My goodness, this looks dizzying and maybe a little bit depressing, but people can’t stop watching, so maybe you’ll get sucked in, too? Good luck.
Hulu/Paramount+/FX on Hulu
Younger: Season 7 (Paramount+/Hulu series) — Final season time has arrived for this Darren Star show as it follows up on Liza mulling over whether to marry Charles while Kelsey made strides professionally. Things will be wrapped up soon with Liza struggling in her personal life while struggling not to lose herself, all while Maggie gets canceled, and Kelsey looking for a new creative outlet.
Mayans M.C. (FX on Hulu) — This biker drama’s in a darker third gear with the club all wrestling with various personal and professional demons. This week, EZ’s recovering from that pesky gunshot wound, so everyone needs to reel in Angel before he does something rash, alright?
Snowfall (FX on Hulu) — The John Singleton-co-created series sees Teddy trying to save his own butt (operation- and career-wise) while Franklin is battling to survive.