TV

Weekend Preview: The Muppets And Madonna Take Streaming (With More World Domination From Squid Game)

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.

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.”

And in case you missed it…

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.

Here’s some regularly scheduled programming:

Nancy Drew (Friday, CW 9:00pm) — Season 3 begins with Nancy working to unravel the mysterious death of a young man during Horseshoe Bay’s annual Harvest Carnival.

SNL (Saturday, HBO 11:29pm) — Kim Kardashian West (is she still using the West? who knows) hosts with musical guest Halsey.

The Equalizer (Sunday, CBS 8:00pm) — Queen Latifah’s McCall wants out, but she gets pulled back in (like The Godfather III, sort of!) when a detective-client comes calling.

The Walking Dead (Sunday, AMC 9:00pm) — This zombie-apocalypse universe’s flagship series returns for one final rodeo with two spinoffs (Fear The Walking Dead, The World Beyond) still in motion, so it’s time to wrap this puppy up before the various shows’ timelines begin to intersect. This week, it’s stormy in Alexandria and Meridian’s fending off a herd.

Scenes From A Marriage (Sunday, HBO 9:00pm) — 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.

Buried (Sunday, Showtime 9:00pm) — This limited true-crime series details the story of Eileen Franklin, who suddenly experiences a decades-old memory of witnessing her childhood best friend get raped and murdered. This realization leads to the case of Susan Nason being reopened after stumping police for almost 20 years.

The Walking Dead: The World Beyond (Sunday, AMC 9:00pm) — Season 2 begins with an episode called “Koneskans,” which translates to “Consequences” in Haitian Creole. This week, the group’s attempting to cover tracks while, elsewhere, unfamiliar surroundings greet some outliers.

American Rust (Sunday, Showtime 10:00) — Jeff Daniels can swing between being comedic and dramatic, and in his new Showtime series, American Rust, he’s decidedly the latter and latest star to take on a complicated cop role after Kate Winslet’s turn in Mare of Easttown. And notably, Bridges’ new role is also set in Pennsylvania and unravels a murder. This week, an anonymous eyewitness sets Harris in motion while an old partner pays him a visit, and Lee’s looking for some professional advice.

Nuclear Family (Sunday, HBO 10:00) — This three-part documentary series sees filmmaker Russo-Young get extremely personal to examine the true nature of family. The story launches in the late 1970s with Ry and Cade being brought up by two lesbian mothers, only to have an unexpected lawsuit rattle the family’s world.

Last Week Tonight (Sunday, HBO 11:00) — John Oliver, baby.

Here’s some more streaming goodness for the weekend.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Sexy Beasts: Season 2 (Netflix series) — 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.

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