A survival-thriller series that surprised the world and crashed the Internet, a final installment from a comedian in a streaming partnership, and a group of iconic Muppets. You might not need more than that this weekend, but the good news is this: there’s a lot more on tap from the various services. This week, Netflix takes the top prize in the battle of the streaming services, because they’ve got both quality and quantity happening. This includes the ragingly popular Squid Game and Dave Chappelle’s newest effort, along with leftover Midnight Mass, new Sexy Beasts, and too much more.
Next up, Disney+ (with those muppets), Amazon Prime (with Blumhouse), and Discovery+ (with Eli Roth) bring some early Halloween scares for you to stock up throughout the month with both tricks and treats. Meanwhile, Apple TV, HBO Max, Paramount, and Hulu keep the variety coming with offerings of their own. Here’s the best of the new streaming selections for this weekend.
Squid Game: (Netflix series) — This Korean show’s on track to be the streamer’s most-watched show ever and has been topping the charts in 90 countries in counting. It’s not real stuff, but the show tells the story of hundreds of desperate contestants who play a deadly survival game, all to win billions of prize money, at the best of… who? (That aspect is mysterious until you watch.) The consequence of losing the games-within-the-games is certain death, and people truly can’t get enough of the premise or the show’s execution (pun fully intended), along with a blistering critique on capitalism.
The Closer (Netflix comedy special) — Dave Chappelle’s stand-up comedy run with Netflix has been a lucrative one for both parties, and it’s sixth-and-final chapter time. Expect plenty of controversy and line-crossing (he defends J.K. Rowling and DaBaby, for example), as is customary for the man on the mic to deliver. And there’s no telling whether Chappelle and Netflix’s common goodwill (after CEO Ted Sarandos helped him receive The Chappelle Show license back, along with millions of dollars) will result in a re-upping of a deal beyond this installment, but for now, the comedian (with returning, Emmy-award winning director Stan Lathan) is closing things out.
Midnight Mass (Netflix series) — Get ready, The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor addicts, because creator Mike Flanagan’s back to cause us more horror fits. This happens to be his favorite project so far and revolves around an isolated community that lives on spooky Crockett Island, which gets even spookier due to a charismatic priest’s arrival. Naturally, a whole lot of supernatural shenanigans are afoot, but human nature (as we are currently experiencing in-real-life these days) can often be scarier than the ghosts that people can dream up. It’s dark, real dark.
On My Block: Season 4 (Netflix series) — This coming-of-age comedy, filled with street-savvy teens and Emilio Rivera as Uncle Chivo, takes one final trip around the inner-city block. An unburied secret causes more conflict, but the friends will have to band together and learn not to avoid the past.
Sexy Beasts: Season 2 — Well, no one expected this show to return so soon, so I guess that one could consider it a… force of nature? It’s a nightmare of a concept, and one can’t look away from the trainwrecky aspect of people going into hours of prosthetic work to go on a date. And I’m not sure, really, if these contestants find it more or less hurtful to be rejected without any consideration of looks? That’s either so much better or so much worse than the usual dating hell out there. Yet obviously, someone did this poor rabbit dirty. Will Rob Delaney return as well? Surely, he can’t let the bunny down.
Escape The Undertaker (Netflix interactive special) — Following Bandersnatch, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. The Reverend, and You Vs. Wild: Out Cold, this new interactive special features WWE Superstars aplenty. Uhhh, The Undertaker’s living in an extreme haunted house and The New Day tag team is simply trying to survive his wrath. I’m not gonna lie, this is awfully perplexing stuff, but let’s go with the spirit of the season as the Costumed Gods would prefer.
Muppets Haunted Mansion (Disney+ special) — After several Muppets-themed Christmas offerings, it’s about time that we’ve received a spooky installment, and let’s face it, more Miss Piggy is always a good thing. Gonzo takes center stage here while attempting to survive the evening in (according to the synopsis) “in the most grim grinning place on Earth.” The special’s actually inspired by all four of the Disney Haunted Mansion attractions that are scattered around the globe, and three original songs (“Rest In Peace,” “Life Hereafter” and “Tie The Knot Tango”) will surface, along with plenty of celebrity cameos along with the all-star Muppets cast.
Among The Stars: Season 1 (Disney+ series) — This show takes space fans behind the a vital NASA mission of fixing the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), a tool that hopes to reveal the universe’s origins, although the job comes with a $2 billion price tag.
LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales (Disney+ special) — The witching hour has arrived for Star Wars characters too, and you know what that means: Luke Skywalker’s heading to the dark side of the Force. This animated is full of haunting moments, including a crime boss that messes with Darth Vadar’s castle, and a misadventure for Poe Dameron and BB-8. There’s an ancient evil threatening to rise, and expect iconic villains from across the vast Star Wars canon to make an appearance.
What If…? (Disney+ series) — We’re in the multiverse, baby. Enjoy this show full of alternate realities that stand separate from the existing canon (thus far), including Agent Carter taking the super-soldier serum, T’Challa materializing as Star Lord, Doctor Strange feeling some real pain, and Black Widow and Nick Fury taking on a murder mystery while Tony Stark eats a donut. Will Tony Stark die again? Probably so.
Justin Bieber: Our World (Amazon Prime movie) — Bieber’s New Year’s Eve 2020 concert is ground zero for this documentary, which covers his first performance following a three-year, full-concert hiatus. Given the whole pandemic thing, he only played in front of 240 guests, but now, you can enjoy the show in your own living room, along with taking a trip behind the curtains.
Welcome to the Blumhouse: Madres/The Manor (Blumhouse films on Amazon Prime) — This week’s Hallowee-themed double dose follows a Mexican-American couple (in 1970s California) who are weathering a troubled pregnancy while being besieged by horrific visions, which might be part of a legendary curse. Then, a woman moves into a famous nursing home, where a supernatural force might be controlling all residents. Naturally, she’s unable to escape her confines, and no one believes her. This sounds like hell on earth.
Welcome to the Blumhouse: Black As Night/Bingo Hell (Blumhouse films on Amazon Prime) — Last week’s double feature shines a light on vampires in the Big Easy, who are the next big threat since Hurricane Katrina. Of course, they’re taking up residence in a French Quarter mansion and must be defeated. Speaking of damn funny, a feisty, board-game loving senior citizen arrives to save the day and the lives of her friends, all with the realization that there’s a sinister presence lurking that’s far more dangerous than mere gentrification. Naturally, there’s a whole lot of social conscience at work.
Goliath: Season 4 (Amazon Prime series) — If it’s taken you this long to consider testing out this show, then get with the freaking program. It’s got Billy Bob Thornton smoldering through a hard-boiled character who was once a force to be feared in the courtroom, but nowadays, he’s not such a prestigious attorney. This season, Thornton’s Billy McBride is going up not only against Big Pharma but also J.K. Simmons. That seldom turns out well for characters who aren’t played by J.K. Simmons, and both men have just the right degree of “I’m over this sh*t” to make it feel believable.
Eli Roth Presents: A Ghost Ruined My Life: Season 1 (Discovery+ series) — Eli Roth has so much going on over at Discovery+ this month (following his recent real-life horror/Shark-Week film on the streamer) that one has to wonder… is he running the joint? It’s a valid question, but more to the point, this series present personal accounts on those who have survived feeling like they’re been dragged through hell and fought their way back. One woman suspects that her home’s a portal to hell, and an abandoned asylum appears to be ground central for an evil presence while a demon curse follows a Mexican-American woman who wants the truth about intergenerational hauntings.
House Haunters: Season 1 (Discovery+ series) — Yep, this house is exactly what it sounds like: a play on the long-running House Hunters series. Join up with comedian Anthony Anderson and his mom, Doris, who inject some horror into the housing market by pranking the hell out of prospective buyers and their realtors alike.
The Haunted Museum: Season 1 (Discovery+ series) — More Eli Roth stuff. Here, he’s teaming up with Ghost Adventures host Zak Bagans for this scripted anthology series, in which they illuminate nine of the world’s most cursed artifacts. These relics are actually in display in Bagans’ Vegas museum, but here, you’ll get the historic commentary in addition to having the pants scared off of you.
Madame X (Paramount+ movie) — In this concert documentary, Madonna takes viewers on tour with her (from way back in January 2020, so pre-pandemic, obviously) all the way to Lisbon, Portugal. Her set included 48 onstage performers, including other musicians and dancers, and she’s here to share her vision with the rest of the world. Her statement on the film points towards reaching out to fans “at a time when music is so deeply needed to remind us of the sacred bond of our shared humanity.”
Billions: Season 5, Part 2 (Showtime series on Paramount+) — There ain’t no drama quite like hedge-fund-king drama, and it remains to be seen whether Bobby Axelrod and Chuck Rhoades will ever decide to stop wasting so much time hating the hell out of each other. Probably not? Yeah, that’d be no fun at all, and everyone on this show ends up getting yanked into the beef that may very well destroy them all. Everyone’s got a reason to love this show, and mine just happens to be watching Maggie Siff and Asia Kate Dillon, rather than the warring dudes, and an extra special treat’s on tap: Janeane Garafalo will recur as the owner of a cannabis venture. I hope she gets everyone super high. (Also, Axe is done after this season!)
Acapulco: Season 1 (Apple TV+ series) — Vacation-based shows are all the rage following The White Lotus and Nine Perfect Strangers, so get your next fix here with the story of a 20-something cabana boy in Acapulco’s most in-demand resort. Naturally, he discovers that the job is not all fun and games, given the demanding clientele and other demanding professional and personal circumstances. Get ready for a bilingual focus, too, with both Spanish and English coming in hot while the main character, Máximo Gallardo, also attempts to avoid temptations.
The Problem With Jon Stewart (Apple TV+ series) — Jon Stewart’s return to TV fast approaches, and it could be argued that he’s never been needed more on TV than this particular moment. The former The Daily Show host will be doing the current-events thing with an episode every two weeks, which isn’t as frequent as fans might prefer, but we’ll trust the process. According to Apple TV+, viewers can expect Stewart to go deep on a single subject per episode with a “solutionary” approach, and yes, there are jokes.
Foundation (Apple TV+ series) — Isaac Asimov’s classic novel gets a heady adaptation starring the always great Jared Harris and Lee Pace. The sci-fi story revolves around exiles who are working to rebuild civilization even as the galaxy falls apart, and surely, there will be plenty of parallels to real-life history here. As one can also see, a great deal of attention has been paid to the epic scale of the show, which Apple TV+ appears to want to be its Game of Thrones.
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. 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 there’s always the spectre of Led Tasso to consider.
The Many Saints of Newark (Warner Bros. film on HBO Max) — David Chase’s The Sopranos prequel movie arrives in theaters and in your living room this weekend. The mob-movie cast (including Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Billy Magnussen, Ray Liotta, and Vera Farmiga) is almost too good. Notably James Gandolfini’s son, Michael, stars as Young Tony. He’s coming of age (and learning to be a mob boss) while rival gang warfare swirls around the family. Our own Mike Ryan enjoyed the film with some qualifiers while calling it both exhilarating and confounding, and Vince Mancini has rounded up the 10 episodes of The Sopranos that will refresh you before the film.
Doom Patrol: Season 3 (HBO Max series) — DC’s struggling misfit superheroes are back for another round. Brendan Fraser has received plenty of raves for his fury-filled Cliff Steele/Robotman, but don’t count out the rest of the crew. There’s Matt Bomer as the bandage-wrapped Negative Man and Diane Guerrero as Crazy Jane, which is actually a role that requires Diane to play dozens of incarnations, including a very timely take on a Karen. This season, the sh*t hits the fan with a time machine.
Scenes From A Marriage (HBO limited series on HBO Max) — It’s season-finale time for this Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain-starring miniseries remakes Ingmar Bergman’s 1970s project original as directed by HBO regular Hagai Levi with a contemporary spin, including all of the love, hatred, desire, monogamy, marriage, and divorce that one would expect. Considering the Isaac-Chastain chemistry on hand, it’s a remake worth perusing.
One of Us Is Lying — The New York Times bestselling novel comes to life when a group of give teens (the brain, the beauty, the jock, the criminal, yes, this sounds like a John Hughes imitation) go to detention, and one of them (the outcast) does not emerge. Hey, it happens. Was the death an accident? Not likely. Naturally, the four remaining students all become suspects, and all of them are looking sketchy. Again, it happens!
Jacinta (Hulu documentary) — Intergenerational trauma is real in this real-life story of what happens when a mother and daughter both end up in prison. This is no Orange Is The New Black take, and both women are attempting to battle their own addictions and other demons while doing time at the Maine Correctional Center. It’s bleak, but it’s a valuable watch with director Jessica Earnshaw shooting with a verité approach.
What We Do in the Shadows (FX, 10:00 & 10:30pm) — Well, well, well. Guillermo turned out to be a vampire killer, which sure as heck came as a surprise to Nandor, Nadja, and Laszlo, and Colin. The four Staten Island roommates must figure out how to handle this conundrum, along with tackling the other challenges of this season. Those include dealing with wellness cults and gym culture, along with gargoyles, werewolves who play kickball, casinos, and more.
Baker’s Dozen: Season 1 (Hulu series) — Culinary competition series (very successful on Hulu following Taste The Nation) are so hot right now (yes, like Zoolander‘s Hansel), so watch out, The Great British Bake Off. Actress Tamera Mowry-Housley and chef Bill Yosses (who previously whipped up pastries in the White House) will judge amateurs as they face off with professionals.
Y: The Last Man (FX on Hulu) — The acclaimed graphic novel gets its due as a dystopian TV drama starring Diane Lane as the globe’s de facto president. Her son becomes, as the title suggests, the very last man on Earth following an apocalyptic event that pretty much obliterates the Y chromosome. FX recently made it known that although the Y appears to refer to the chromosome, the show will take a nuanced approach and not operate on a merely gender-binary level.