Revolution Television: Islands in the Stream

Editor’s NoteThis should have been published back on September 21st, but with all the hullabaloo you’re all well familiar with by now, it wasn’t. So please, bear with us yet again.

Now that we’ve gotten through that old set box we used to call a television, let’s take a gander over at the stuff that airs wherever you are – Netflix, Amazon, etc:

Netflix

The Good Cop – September 21

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Tony Danza stars in this lighthearted but meaningful dramedy that positions his son, played by Josh Groban in his first leading role, as the murderer cop in a pseudo-revenge mystery. Danza plays his alcoholic father and former lieutenant in the same precinct. Groban is by-the-book, even for his own father, and won’t even turn on red despite the fact that he’s in a police cruiser and no one else is around. When he’s accused of murdering his father’s former rival, who was involved in a case from twenty years ago, his friends must help navigate the bureaucracy that hates how much better he is than them. Sounds like an intriguing debut for Groban, and Danza is always a hoot to have around.

The Haunting of Hill House – October 12

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The first of two frightening fables is this newest adaptation of the famous Shirley Jackson novel. Mike Flanagan (Ouija, Before I Wake) helms this crafty creeper that focuses on a family beset by paranormal mischief, some of which turns deadly. Pretty standard stuff, but the parents are Carla Gugino (Sin City) and Henry Thomas (ET the Extra-terrestrial), who also featured in Flanagan’s Stephen King adaptation Gerald’s Game last year. This seems like a perfect follow-up to that surprise sleeper hit, and early reports have this as the Halloween streamer to catch.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina – October 26

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The other side of Netflix’s spooky season is this spin-off of the Riverdale franchise, with Archie’s neighboring town Greendale hosting all sorts of demonic excursions. Kiernan Shipka, who grew up on Mad Men, takes over the titular role from Melissa Joan Hart – and by the way, this isn’t your parents’ Sabrina. Puns and talking cats aside, there’s a real-life otherworldiness about the proceedings, with the occult attempting to foray its way into Sabrina’s daily life in a much more foreboding way. The teenage angst is still there, as she’ll deal with handling boyfriend Harvey (Ross Lynch) alongside her witchy duties, and homework. Aunts Zelda (Miranda Otto) and Hilda (Lucy Davis) are still their typical archetypes, with the latter being a bit ditzy while the former is all business. The dynamic hasn’t changed, but with Salem’s voice box cut (for now, I’m guessing…) the wisecracks appear to be coming from a newish – to the screen, at least – character in Sabrina’s cosuin, Ambrose (Chance Perdomo). I was into the Riverdale revival, but this speaks even more to me. Very high on my list.

Narcos: Mexico – November 16

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Didn’t watch any of Narcos, although I’ve heard incredibly good reviews. Apparently, this is a soft reset of the series, rather than a continuation as originally intended. Diego Luna and Michael Pena star as cartel boss Felix Gallardo and undercover DEA agent Kiki Camarena, respectively. I’ve always enjoyed both actors – they’re often the best thing in every film they appear, and they’ll be bringing their star quality to this show. I might actually just pop in on this “season” – I don’t think we necessarily need to see the other three Narcos seasons anyway, they’ll just all have the same feel for newcomers and old fans alike.

Tidelands – December 14

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Following in the stead of the popular mini-series Top of the Lake, this Australian 10-episode mini-series bows on Netflix right in time for Christmas. With its touch of the fantastic, with mer-men called Tidelanders, it might remind one of last year’s Best Picture winner that dropped around the same time, The Shape of Water. Charlotte Best (Home and Away) plays Cal McTeer, a former criminal who returns home to her small fishing village. Once there, a mysterious death involves the humans and the Tidelanders. A little murder mystery, a little fantasy encounter. Sounds like a nice quick holiday binge.

The Umbrella Academy – February 15, 2019

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Now this is a project I’ve wanted to keep a close eye on ever since I first heard it was being adapted. After his success with band My Chemical Romance, frontman Gerard Way embarked on a comic series, delighting fans with its whimsical superhero mystery. I never actually read the book, and although I’ve wanted to – word is that this is an incredibly faithful re-creation. Ellen Page leads the team as The White Violin, while turns from Mary J. Blige, Colm Feore and John Magaro dot the cast. It doesn’t hit until Valentine’s Day, but that’s the sweetest romance we can look forward to.

Maniac – September 21

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Cary Fukunaga has crafted something deliciously abstract here. Yet another subdued dystopian society gives way to a fantastical fever dream when a sinister company enlists loners to product test an mind-bending pharmaceutical trial. Sounds brilliant, no? Jonah Hill is the lead loner, a black sheep brother who is being cajoled into vouching for a family member on trial while he keeps seeing an imaginary version of that person leading him towards some unknown fate. He finds that the company, Neberdine, is providing an outlet for him to escape his obligations. Upon the advent of the trial, he meets an enigmatic figure who he believes his fictional brother has been leading him towards. Emma Stone plays the woman he fixates upon, while Gabriel Byrne and Billy Magnussen are his father and brother. Justin Theroux and Sonoya Mizuno lead the Neberdine facility, while Sally Field plays a mysterious figure in the background. The cast is top-notch, Fukunaga killed it with the first season of True Detective, so I’m all in.

The Kominsky Method – November 16

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Similar to recent HBO hit Barry, this upcoming Netflix show features a character deluded that his miniscule success once in his past has translated into the ability to teach acting well. Similar to last year’s clever Noah Baumbach film The Meyerowitz Stories, this features a character deluded that he still has something to provide while younger family members step in to assist with their daily lives. Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin are the stars here, which is a nice surprise, given those actors’ stature. I’m looking forward to seeing where this ends up.

Amazon

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan – August 31

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If you had told me in 2006 that Jim Halpert would bulk up and become the fifth Jack Ryan in franchise history, I would have chuckled and called it a nice pipe dream. Here I am with egg on my face, I guess. Sand and dust ruins John Krasinski’s chiseled face, although worn may fit him better. This iteration of the classic Tom Clancy character is respectful of the original material, while updating it a bit from its early Cold War days to a world in which…Russians still may be the masterminds behind the scenes, even though the front line is in the Middle East. Testosterone fuels this 24 lite, and I anticipate it itching that action bug we all have.

The Romanoffs – October 12

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Matthew Weiner’s next project after Mad Men has been much anticipated, so much so to the point of near empyrean stature. He deserves the credit for making such a phenomenal show that captured a passion of history in America – he has received a blank check most showrunners may never afford to cash in. So it makes sense that this would have a strange passion for historical relevance and a pseudo-intellectualism that pervaded his attempt to make Don Draper human. Here he attempts to rationalize the separation between the 19th-century elite and modern day socialites. Don’t we all wish we were secretly part of royalty? The premise here is that many of the characters in each episode of this anthology are somehow related to the rapidly murdered line of Russia’s monarchs. With an all-star cast from his own works (John Slattery, Christina Hendricks, Jay R. Ferguson) as well as otherwise (Diane Lane, Aaron Eckhart, Corey Stoll) this looks to be an intriguing experiment for Weiner and his team. As long as it’s not too stilted, the future for the Romanoffs is promising.

Homecoming – November 2

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Another auteur I adore, Sam Esmail, has crafted another series that should confuse just about everyone. Playing with time, memory, emotions and psychology, the show focuses on Heidi Bergman, a case worker at a “Homecoming” facility – a place for shell-shocked soldiers to attempt reacclimatization with society. Heidi is played by Julia Roberts, in her first ever television starring role, while she’s joined by Mr. Robot alum Bobby Cannavale, Shea Whigham (Boardwalk Empire), Stephan James (Race), Alex Karpovsky (Girls) and Sissy Spacek (The Old Man and the Gun). Quite a cast Mr. Esmail has assembled, and it’s sure to be quite a homecoming for Ms. Roberts as well.

Forever – September 14

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Fred Armisen made a nice little niche for himself on IFC’s sketch comedy Portlandia. Establishing himself as a strange yet relatable comedic visionary outside of SNL, it warrants a next step for him, as well as former co-star Maya Rudolph, who has established herself well in film (Bridesmaids) and shows (Up All Night) alike. This pairing involves the two in a mundane marriage who try to shake things up by heading out on a skiing trip. Thing is, Armisen’s character Oscar hits a tree and dies. Then June (Rudolph) chokes on a macadamia nut and follows him into the afterlife. There they must navigate a new and treacherous landscape that should be a beautiful indie counterpoint to The Good Place.

Hulu

Light as a Feather – October 12

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This supernatural drama should sate those fans missing Pretty Little Liars and The Vampire Diaries alike. If you’ve never heard of the creepy-ass children’s game that the show derives its title from, then let me educate you a little bit. A few of your friends gather around, while you lie as still as possible on the ground, their fingertips gently brushing below you. Everyone (but you) chants “light as a feather, stiff as a board” until you all sync up, lift, and suddenly you’re levitating. So – the teenagers in this show attempt this mysterious game, and the results are a bit reminiscent of Final Destination. Sounds like a fun premise for a show, and the results could be horrifying.

Into the Dark – October 5

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If you have to kill someone on Halloween, what better costume to hide in than Agent 47?

A horror anthology series that will see a new episode premiere each month, Into the Dark takes a page from Batman: The Long Halloween by having each story focus on a holiday from that particular month. The first episode “The Body” will be set in Los Angeles and follow Halloween partygoers. The second one “Flesh and Blood” will have a more introverted segment centered around Thanksgiving dinner in a house where a woman doesn’t feel safe any longer. Sounds promising, at least on paper. Let’s see how the execution goes. Aurora Perrineau (Truth or Dare) stars in the first, while Dermot Mulroney (The Grey) features in the second.

The First – September 14

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Saving The First for last! There have been plenty of space expedition dramas told, and this won’t be the last. Starring Sean Penn (Dead Man Walking) and Natascha McElhone (Solaris), this focuses on the lead-up to a planned mission to Mars, one that will hopefully colonize the planet for the first time. Given that the trip takes quite a long time, it’s essentially a complete depature from their family and friends. I’ve thought a lot about this, and if given the chance, I think I might leave it all behind and head out into the stars. Hopefully this won’t be too overly dour, as this premise wonts to be. It’s created by Beau Willimon (House of Cards), so chances are it will be dark, but in a sincerely bewildering way.


At long last, we’re pretty much wrapped up on the television preview. I did have a mid-season article planned, and I have some other priorites to take care of, but I may get to it if I feel I have time. If not….maybe I’ll just push it to, what else, mid-season? Thanks for bearing with me, and I’ll hope I can guarantee a better timeliness next time.

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