TV

Weekend Preview: A Robot Apocalypse, A Samurai Anime, And An Unhinged Justin Theroux

The Mitchells Vs. The Machines (Netflix film) — Need something to put the kids’ butts in front of the TV while you take a load off? Or do you need to just relax and enjoy an uplifting family-type film on your own? You’re in luck. This one hails from Oscar-winning producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and The LEGO Movie) and includes the voices of Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, and Maya Rudolph, who are here to soothe you while a family pushes against an apparent robot electronic-device uprising. Fortunately, two helpful robots are around to help halt the chaos. Whew.

Yasuke (Netflix series) — Netflix will up its anime game with this dazzling series from Japanese animation studio MAPPA, and the project arrives with quite a pedigree. LaKeith Stanfield voices a character who’s based upon the real-life first African samurai, who struggles to shed his past life of violence while striving to keep a peaceful existence. However, he must reluctantly pick up his sword again when a war-torn, feudal Japanese village becomes ground central for warring daimyo. The score’s courtesy of Flying Lotus, and creator/director/producer LeSean Thomas will build upon his proven track record (The Boondocks, Cannon Busters, and Black Dynamite) of interweaving anime and Black culture with a big boost from head writer Nick Jones Jr.

The Mosquito Coast (Apple TV+ series) — Justin Theroux headlines this series adaptation of Paul Theroux (yes, Paul is Justin’s actual uncle) novel previously brought to life in the mid-1980s with Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren, and River Phoenix. Fast forward thirty freaking years, and there’s a sweeping version coming your way with all of the Apple TV+-style visuals that they tend to drop into their most “epic” productions. The series itself doesn’t match up to the book or film’s tackling of consumerism as much as it wants to be like Breaking Bad (yet forgot the most important ingredient). Also, Justin Theroux’s character, Allie Fox, is an eccentric, overbearing, and eventually psychotic patriarch who drags his family to Mexico, so get ready for plenty of tense moments.

Invincible (Amazon Prime series) — It’s season finale time, and god only knows what will go down with What Omni-Man Did (a spoiler-filled recap can be found here). This animated romp 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. If you haven’t started yet, it’s a great time to catch up.

Tenet (Warner Bros. show on HBO Max) — Christopher Nolan’s latest effort, starring Robert Pattinson and John David Washington, wanted to be the first 2020 pandemic blockbuster, but it was simply too soon. Does the movie make sense? Not really, but it’s still an event movie in your living room, so it’s worth a whirl for sure.

The Oprah Conversation (Apple TV+ series) — Elliot Page will sit down for an in-depth interview with Oprah to discuss all manner of issues following his moving social message that he’s transgender. Hopefully, we’ll get a little The Umbrella Academy talk, but one can expect LGBTQ+ issues to stand front and center (including Elliot’s partnership with the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice) in this conversation.

A Black Lady Sketch Show (Friday, HBO 11:00 p.m.) — The fast-paced, quick-witted narrative series returns with loads of celebrity guests, but of course, the sketches all happen by the grace of the core cast, including Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, and Gabrielle Dennis. Issa Rae’s executive producing, and this week, there’s first-class confusion on a vacation to Fiji.

Fear the Walking Dead (Sunday, AMC 9:00 p.m.) — Two weeks after the show brilliantly subverted Negan’s storyline, Virginia is gone, but a greater threat lurks when an infiltration transforms into a rescue mission, and it all has to do with an underground community.

The Nevers (Sunday, HBO 9:00 p.m.) — This Joss Whedon-created show (with a steampunk elephant in the corner) sees Amalia making a list of those who oppose her while Mundi wants justice, and several Orphans work together to interpret a message.

City On A Hill (Sunday, Showtime 9:00 p.m.) — Jackie’s closing in on Grace, Anton is in the wind, Decourcy is sidelined, and Kelvin’s struggling to be a leader.

Mare Of Easttown (Sunday, HBO 10:00 p.m.) — Kate Winslet returns not only to TV but to HBO as a hard-vaping detective in a small town where she both portrays and elevates the “complicated” cop trope. This week, Mare and Helen clash over a custody fight, and then Mare and Colin uncover a likely murder suspect.

Gangs Of London (Sunday, AMC 10:15 p.m.) — Fans of the beloved Peaky Blinders should pay attention because this new series makes Peaky seem like a pleasant walk in London’s Hyde Park. These warring gangs will prove to be entertaining for anyone who loves The Sopranos or any of Marty Scorsese’s mob pictures.

Couples Therapy (Sunday, Showtime 10:00 & 10:30 p.m.) — Dr. Orna Guralnik is guiding a new trio of couples through all of their conflict and resentments and otherwise unhealthy behavior, all with the hope of keeping them together.

Last Week Tonight (Sunday, HBO 10:00 p.m.) — Please, let John Oliver tackle Ted Cruz again.

Desus & Mero (Sunday, Showtime 11:00 p.m.) — Taylour Paige is the illustrious guest.

Here are some more fresh streaming picks:

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 4 (Hulu series) — Elisabeth Moss has so much going on these days, but she’s going back again to fight for freedom against the totalitarian government of Gilead. This season, she’ll lead the rebellion while fighting for justice and revenge, but perhaps the biggest threat she’ll face is staying true to herself and the relationships that she values most. Moss and the show keep on racking up Emmys, and she’s back with more with Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski, Alexis Bledel, O-T Fagbenle, Bradley Whitford, and Max Minghella. Expect the show to get nomadic this season, leaving the Boston area and officially abandoning home base, which must have presented quite the challenge while filming during a pandemic (as if the show wasn’t socially relevant enough already).

Mortal Kombat (Warner Bros. film on HBO Max) — We’ve got another blockbuster-type movie in our living rooms this weekend, and this incarnation promises to be R-rated to the max with plenty of carnage in tune with the video game. Among other qualifications to that point, James Wan produced, so that makes sense! In all seriousness, this is a more serious treatment than the 1990s film, and we’ll get to see Sub-Zero hunting down MMA fighter Cole Young, and someone will end up being the loser of the “finish him” concept. HBO Max released the first seven minutes of the film ahead of time, if you’d like to get a taste of the bloodshed coming to your TV screen.

Bigger (BET+ series) — Season 2 brings back the fan-favorite Will Packer comedy about thirty-somethings living in Atlanta, while they attempt to maneuver their way through, well, life. That would include professional, personal and other such obstacles, all while searching for love and dealing with uncomfortable truths on occasion. The whole season dropped at once, only on BET+

Things Heard & Seen (Netflix film) — Amanda Seyfried stars as a couple that realizes that a sinister darkness plagues their marriage and fits right in with their new home’s past. The story’s based upon Elizabeth Brundage’s novel, and it takes place in the Hudson Valley. Seyfried’s better at the spooky-eyed look than most of her contemporaries, and her displaced Manhattanite character benefits from that vibe.

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