Weekend Preview: A Whole Lot Of Action, And A Little Party Known As ‘The Oscars’

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.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Disney+ series) — It’s finale time. Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes are still doing their buddy action-comedy thing, but things accelerated quickly (to put it mildly) when John Walker turned Captain America into a villain and got booted from the gig. This led to an honest-to-God surprise cameo, but there’s still plenty of loose ends to clean up. Who’s the Power Broker? Can the show decide if the Flag Smashers are baddies, or nah? Let’s all root for an action-packed finale with clarification on the Sharon Carter/Batroc issue and then send Bucky to Aruba, alright?

The 93rd Academy Awards: (Sunday, ABC 8:00 p.m.) — Over two months past the Oscars’ usual scheduled date, they’re still gonna do this thing. Hopefully, it’ll feel like a real event, and although Mank leads the nominations, Nomadland might sweep the biggest gongs. Steven Soderberg is out there promising that the night will feel like a trip to the movies, so we’ll see how the celebration goes? To prepare for the evening, check out Josh Kurp’s ranking of Best Picture winners (of all time), and come back on Sunday evening for our coverage of the biggest moments.

A Black Lady Sketch Show: Season 2 Premiere (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 once again, things will get experimental with sprinkles of magical realism, but most of all, settle in for the laughs.

Fear the Walking Dead (Sunday, AMC 9:00 p.m.) — Last week, the show brilliantly subverted Negan’s storyline, and this week, Virginia may be gone, but an even greater threat lurks in the wings while Morgan is gathering survivors and making a call for unity.

The Nevers (Sunday, HBO 9:00 p.m.) — This Joss Whedon-created show (with a steampunk elephant in the corner) sees Penance inventing a hope-spreading device as Mary searches for her voice, and the walls are closing in around Amalia’s group.

City On A Hill (Sunday, Showtime 9:00 p.m.) — Decourcy’s pissing people off as usual and at odds with Siobhan, and U.S. Attorney Shimizu is trying to get rid of her no-good gent, and Jackie’s scheming on a new mission.

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 visits a murder scene and must inform the victim’s father, and then she questions suspects while meeting her new partner, played by Evan Peters.

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.) — Season 2 of this series begins, and I’d encourage you to get caught up on the first round, too, because this series is pretty darn addictive. This new batch of episodes sees Dr. Orna Guralnik 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.

Here are some more fresh streaming picks:

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’s dropping at once, only on BET+

Shadow and Bone (Netflix series) — Need a little fantasy to shut down reality for a while? You’re in luck. Based upon Leigh Bardugo’s bestselling Grishaverse novels, this show follows dark forces that move against an orphan mapmaker (Alina Starkov), whose power might be the key to transforming a war-torn world. Alina must conquer the Shadow Fold threat and train as an elite magical soldier (a Grisha) while learning that nothing is it seems, and she must also maneuver around a crew of charismatic criminals to determine who is an ally, who is an enemy, and who is both.

Rutherford Falls (Peacock series) — The newest Michael Schur sitcom is doing the streaming thing, and this show is flat-out putting its location in the title, in lockstep with the co-creator’s fixation with location. Can Rutherford Falls match up with Scranton and Pawnee, in the long run? That remains to be seen, but Ed Helms stars as Nathan Rutherford, who is (obviously, due to the last name) inextricably tied to the town’s history, and Nathan’s not taking too kindly to a movement to eject a historical statue. This looks about as refreshingly and delightfully offbeat as one would expect from The Good Place creator because everything he touches is magic.

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.

Stowaway (Netflix film) — For All Mankind arguably sets the bar too high for every other space travel-focused streaming offering out there, but listen up because the cast is the real treat. Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, Shamier Anderson, and Toni Collette are a dream team when it comes to delivering the drama. As you may have guessed from the title, there’s an (inadvertent) stowaway aboard a three-person mission to Mars, and that’s going to affect the oxygen supply in a crucial way. It’s not the most original space crisis you’ll ever see, but with a cast like this, the freak-out performances (and the solving of the dilemma within mere hours) are guaranteed to be worth the click.