Black Widow (Marvel Studios film on Disney+) — Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff finally gets her due and a proper send-off in this actioner that aims to go back-to-basics but succeeds more on a personal level. The film fills in plenty of blanks following the events of Captain America: Civil War, but more importantly, we receive butt-kicking ladies in well-choreographed fight scenes and an emotionally resonant story that introduces us to the inner Natasha, as witnessed by Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova. She’s perhaps the only person in the world who’s allowed to tease Natasha, and their dynamic rules. The film also allows David Harbour to perform grunt-filled face work with a wild accent while the ladies swirl around him in hand-to-hand combat.
The White Lotus: (Sunday, HBO 9:00pm) — Mike White’s new series skewers the ultra-wealthy in what turns out to be a brilliant satire (both sprawling in its breadth and self-contained in its brevity) on how obscene wealth rots everything that it touches. Starring Jake Lacy, Jennifer Coolidge, Murray Bartlett, and Alexandra Daddario, the show’s approach is one that Succession fans will surely enjoy, and while the setup feels like The Love Boat or Fantasy Island had a lovechild with Agatha Christie.
Wellington Paranormal: (Sunday, CW 9:00pm) — What We Do In The Shadows fans rejoice because you’re receiving a spinoff mockumentary series with the same comedy-horror tone from creators and executive producers Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement. For this franchise installment, the action goes down in New Zealand, where two officers of the Wellington paranormal unit investigate apparent possessions and sightings of ghosts, aliens, and matters of cryptozoology with the most straight-faced, deadpan humor that one could possibly expect.
These streaming picks make great appetizers:
I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson: Season 2 (Netflix series) — Get ready for more insanely absurdist (and almost therapeutically refreshing) sketch comedy from creator and writer Tim Robinson. He’s back with partner Zach Kanin for more of turning the most mundane and bizarre life moments into shouty hilarity, and guest stars this season include Bob Odenkirk, Sam Richardson, Paul Walter Hauser, Tim Heidecker, and many more. If you haven’t had the pleasure of digging into Robinson’s work, and you love Adam Sandler and Chris Farley’s exaggerated humor, yet crowned with an especially self-aware twist, you must plop this show into your queue.
Fear Street Part 2: 1978 (Netflix film) — One week after Part 1’s release, the franchise goes back to Shadyside, where summer vacation’s on tap, which means summer camp and someone who wishes to commit murder. In short, a group of campers discover that their town’s horrifying happenings might be connected to what they’re going through now, and they need to shut down the impending perpetrator, fast.
Back to some more regularly scheduled programming:
Betty: (Friday, HBO 11:00pm) — The main players are all back: Rachelle Vinberg as Camille, Ajani Russell as Indigo, Dede Lovelace as Janay, Moonbear as Honeybear, and Nina Moran as Kirt. This week, the Halloween party is not going smoothly with Camille attempting to make amends while Honeybear’s acting out, and Indigo is fed up.
Kevin Can F**k Himself (Sunday, AMC 9:00 p.m.) — Allison’s pushing limits after Patty got booted out of the boy’s group while Nick decides to cause trouble for Patty, too.
Rick and Morty (Sunday, Adult Swim, 11:00pm) — The Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland-led show (newly back for Season 5) sees a failed experiment, which could wreak havoc on both Rick and the whole country.
The Chi (Sunday, Showtime, 9:00pm) — Trig attempts to counsel Jamal while Emmett and Tiff look into new things, all while Imani wants to ditch the trap house.
Black Monday (Sunday, Showtime, 10:00pm) — “Artistic differences” cause friction for Mo and Dawn while Keith tries to work things out with Mike, and a VIP is targeted by Blair and Tiff.
Flatbush Misdemeanors (Sunday, Showtime, 10:30pm) — Dan attempts to help Jess deal with a school lockdown after a bomb threat, as a shocking secret affects Zayna.
Desus & Mero (Sunday, Showtime, 11:00pm) — Vince Staples is the illustrious guest.
Here are more streaming picks for the weekend:
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Hulu film) — Questlove’s stepping into the director’s seat for the first time for this cinematic historical record that celebrates Black history over the course of six weeks. The culmination, of course, turns out to be the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, and this film brings you never-before-seen footage of performances from Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, B.B. King, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and many more.
Loki: Episode 5 (Disney+ series, releasing in the wee hours of Wednesday morning) — Tom Hiddleston has an absolute blast playing the mercurial trickster of the MCU, and we shall reap the benefits while he helps (or hinders) the Time Variance Authority during the process of cleaning up the timeline. This week, the Easter eggs exploded with so many Marvel Comics references and surprises that fans nearly couldn’t handle it all.
Monsters at Work: Season 1 premiere (Disney+ series) — John Goodman and Billy Crystal return as James P. “Sulley” Sullivan and Mike Wazowski. They have both been promoted, and a new crop of monsters (voiced by Mindy Kaling, Henry Winkler, Ben Feldman, and Alana Ubach) are doing the harvesting. The twist here, of course, is that although the franchise is going back to basics, the franchise is trading scares for laughter after realizing that — surprise — laughter generates so much more energy for Monstropolis than screams.
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. Showrunner Josh Safran has promised that this reboot series will be much more socially conscious than the original, and that the teens will “take Ubers, not limos.”
Shark Week 2021 (Discovery+ event) — Before Eli Roth’s Fin documentary arrives next week, the annual shark-related festivities begin with Shark Academy and Song of the Shark. With the former selection, several contestants compete for a spot on a massive shark-diving expedition. Of course, these enthusiasts don’t exactly possess traditional backgrounds before immersing themselves for six weeks at the behest of the great Dr. Riley Elliott. In the latter selection, YouTube Dan Mace edits and scores fresh shark footage from around the globe to give viewers a never-before-seen glimpse of these fearsome and enigmatic animals.
The Snoopy Show: Season 1 premiere (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.