What Streaming Service Offers The Best Options This Weekend?
The streaming services really can’t rest for a moment without bringing us more content than anyone could ever hope to digest (and still sleep). The sheer number of offerings is dizzying, as is the sheer number of services, so we’re here to tell you where your dollar goes furthest. We’ve still got no idea how Netflix keeps so much quantity coming, but as always, we will weigh quality as an important factor. Fortunately for Netflix, they’ve got both criteria going this week, including a stunning new anime series (starring LaKeith Stanfield and scored by Flying Lotus) that you really should put in your queue. For that reason (along with the quantity factor), the streaming mainstay ties for first place with another long-running streamer. Amazon Prime doesn’t have the same quantity going, but it does serve up the season finale of a beloved animated series.
Yep, adult-oriented animation is hot this week, and on the superhero front, Disney+ is still going strong with a behind-the-scenes followup for the Falcon and the Winter Soldier and a new Soul-focused short while Hulu brings us the latest installment of Elisabeth Moss’ dramatic return to Gilead. Don’t count out HBO Max, however, which has several selections from the past week, and Peacock’s still doling out Michael Schur’s newest show. Oh, and Apple TV+ debuts Justin Theroux’s labor of love, The Mosquito Coast remake. In other words, there is no way you will ever be bored at home this weekend.
Yasuke (Netflix series) — Netflix will up its anime game with this dazzling series from Japanese animation studio MAPPA (Attack on Titan: The Final Season), and the project arrives with quite a pedigree, given that LaKeith Stanfield executive produces on lead voice work. 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 will arrive courtesy of Flying Lotus, who also produces, and creator/director/producer LeSean Thomas will build upon his proven track record (The Boondocks, Cannon Buster, and Black Dynamite) of interweaving anime and Black culture.
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.
Headspace Guide to Sleep (Netflix series) — Most of us could use more sleep, no matter how much we currently get and especially during all of the ongoing pandemic stress. This series is a joint project between Headspace and Vox Media Studios, and it aims to help you lay the foundation for more healthy habits. Subjects explore will include insomnia, stress, our phones, and sleeping pills, and stick around for a guided meditation to help get you on the road to more blissful nights.
Fatma (Netflix film) — So, an ordinary-seeming cleaning lady goes searching for her missing husband and inadvertently ends up murdering someone. Subsequently, she becomes a killer while no one is the wiser. Yessir, it’s always the quiet ones.
The Disciple (Netflix film) — This story about an Indian classical music vocalist is a study in devotion and the importance of following one’s own way, and how, sometimes, a disciple knows much better about what will make him happy than his gurus and family do. Turning inward ain’t easy (following directions is easier in some ways), in other words, but it’s often worth the process.
Invincible (Amazon Prime series) — It’s season finale time, and god only knows what will go down with What Omni-Man Did. 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. 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.
Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse (Amazon Prime film) — Michael B. Jordon stars as an elite Navy SEAL who’s seeking justice after the murder of his pregnant wife. In the process, he (naturally) stumbles upon an international conspiracy. It’s the origin story of one of the most beloved Clancy characters in his entire Jack Ryan universe.
Assembled: The Making of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Disney+ special) — WandaVision received its own Assembled treatment, and so will Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes with all of their series’ high-flying ways. Last week’s season finale answered the whole Power Broker thing and finally gave Sam Wilson his day, but there are still plenty of questions left to be answered. Hopefully, we’ll get at a clue or two here while waiting for more details on Captain America 4 or a possible second season.
22 vs. Earth (Pixar short on Disney+) — This Soul-supplemental short (and prequel) focuses on soul 22 and exactly why she’s hell bent upon not going to Earth. We’ll see her enlist her own rebellious gang of souls, although her goals might be thwarted by a surprising revelation.
Big Shot (Disney+ series) — David E. Kelley co-created and executive produces this series starring John Stamos as a down-on-his luck, ousted NCAA coach who’s attempting to get back on his (angry) feet with a ritzy private high-school gig. While reluctantly seeking redemption, Coach learns that his new team benefits from him showing some actual emotion beyond rage and stoicism, so he must — gasp — learn how to be vulnerable and empathetic. He might actually become a better person, too.
Earth Moods (Nat Geo series on Disney+) — This five-part series serves up us various “moods” from the corners of the globe to soothe us with the natural world. Each one (from glaciers to deserts to rain forests to cities) will take us on voyage to help our minds reset. Sounds fantastic.
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).
Sasquatch (Hulu series) — So officially, this is a documentary series, although the Duplass Brothers are behind the project, so you gotta know that the approach will unusual. The series promises to dig into a gruesome triple homicide that was allegedly carried out by Bigfoot back in the 1990s. Somehow, there’s a bunch of cannabis involved, and that could directly be tied to the murders? Investigative journalist David Holthouse promises to tell the craziest story that he’s ever heard, and he does it.
The Mosquito Coast (Apple TV+ series) — Justin Theroux’s headlining 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.
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 Umbrella Academy talk (the nerds will dig it), 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. Elliot also recently made his directorial debut with There’s Something In The Water, a documentary that tackles environmental racism.
Looney Tunes Cartoons, Season 1D (HBO Max series) — This new batch of episodes couldn’t come soon enough. Tune in for Bugs to evade someone besides Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam while Daffy can’t cope with a photocopier, and Elmer Fudd’s looking for some legal advice. All in all, you’ll be able to stream 10 new shorts, and you’ll probably be left wanting more.
Lucy the Human Chimp (HBO Max film) — This ain’t the movie starring Scarlett Johansson. Instead, get ready for a more substantial film (a documentary) about Lucy Termerlin, the infamous chimpanzee who believed she was human because she was pretty much raised that way.
The Big Shot with Bethenny (HBO Max series) — Bethenny Frankel (the Skinnygirl founder) does her business-mogul thing here while allowing a gathering of hopefuls to compete for a chance to be her right-hand woman. Watch out though, because the competition will be fierce, and Frankel promises to be demanding and perfectionistic while pushing candidates through real-life challenges aimed at how they can best show off their creativity and determination.
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.
Mare Of Easttown (HBO series streaming on HBO Max) — Kate Winslet returns not only to TV but to HBO (a decade after her award-winning Mildred Pierce turn) to star as a hard-vaping detective in a small town where she both portrays and elevates the “complicated” cop trope. She’s captivating while digging into a murder mystery that has rocked her small town and caused the community to feel utterly claustrophobic. This show will suck you in, and you won’t mind one bit.
The Nevers (HBO series streaming on HBO Max) — This Joss Whedon-created show offers an intriguing setup about a group of “orphans” (almost exclusively women) who find themselves “gifted” with supernaturally-powered abilities. Although there’s far too many plot lines (and some plot holes), there’s also a fair amount of butt-kicking, and the atmosphere is killer. The embattled Buffy and Firefly creator officially exited the series last year, but you won’t be able to forget his presence.
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. There’s more to that topic than one would assume, and the wrangling of Nathan seems down to his lifelong best pal, portrayed by Jana Schmieding. This looks about as refreshingly and delightfully offbeat as one would expect from The Good Place creator because everything he touches is magic.