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Thu04092020

Last updateFri, 03 Apr 2020 5pm

Jason Bateman stars in and directs the first two episodes of HBO’s The Outsider, the latest miniseries based on a Stephen King novel. Man, does King ever walk away from the keyboard?

Terry Maitland (Bateman) is arrested by Ralph Anderson (Ben Mendelsohn) while coaching a Little League game—and the charges against him are shocking: Terry has allegedly killed a small boy, with witnesses placing him at the scene of the crime. There’s also surveillance video and forensic evidence that seemingly confirm his guilt. Yet Terry proclaims his innocence and has a solid alibi, including witness accounts and video confirmation that he was many miles away when the crime occurred.

The first two episodes of the 10-part series offer a good setup, with Bateman doing a nice job both behind and in front of the camera. There’s no question I will be tuning in for more as the story continues on a one-episode-per-week basis. (Yes, HBO is doing it old school!) It’s a crime story, but there are hints at something much more, including a supernatural angle—and the first two episodes act as nice hook.

Some future episodes are directed by Andrew Bernstein, who works with Bateman on Ozark. So, there’s no final verdict yet on whether this will be good as a whole or not. I can only speak about the first 20 percent, which I liked.

The Outsider is now airing on HBO and its streaming services.

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing

New Year, new you? Likely not—but at least there’s new TV to stream.

You’re thinking, “New TV? I’m not even caught up on last year’s shows!” Just accept it: Unless you somehow land a sweet gig as a pro TV reviewer, you never will. I’m not saying I’m better than you; I’m just saying

Onward and upward—or at least fast-forward. Here are 11 new streaming shows to kick off the New Year. (I didn’t say “new decade,” because that starts in 2021. Don’t @ me.)

Reprisal (streaming now on Hulu): A flashy bouillabaisse of Tarantino pulp, rockabilly fetishism and neon-noir camp, Reprisal was lost in the December streaming overload—and I know that WTF? synopsis certainly didn’t help. The plot is simpler than the execution: A wronged woman (Abigail Spencer) is out for revenge against the savage hot-rod gang who left her for dead. Reprisal is weird and imperfect, but rarely dull.

The Witcher (streaming now Netflix): Speaking of weird and imperfect, you’ve probably heard of The Witcher; former Superman Henry Cavill’s pecs and He-Man wig are nearly as meme-able as Baby Yoda. For a Netflix series with a mild TV-MA rating, The Witcher is as much blood ’n’ boobs as it is swords ‘n’ sorcery, like a dollar-store Game of Thrones with a sense of humor. Beats the hell out of The Mandalorian.

Servant (streaming now Apple TV+): Remember Apple TV+? The arrival of Disney+ squashed its buzz before The Morning Show finally stopped sucking (only a little) and M. Night Shyamalan’s Servant arrived. It’s a creepy baby-sitter thriller with a twist—and then another twist, and another, and another, because M. Night Shyamalan. Most disturbing of them all is a teen baby sitter with no Instagram account (!).

Medical Police (streaming Jan. 10 on Netflix): A sequel to 2010-16 Adult Swim cult favorite Childrens Hospital, Medical Police stars several OG series doctors (including Erinn Hayes and Rob Huebel) as undercover Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agents recruited to stop a global bio-terrorism plot. It’s a mashup of Childrens Hospital and Jack Ryan that’s still less ridiculous than Jack Ryan, or (stay with me here) a sub-homage to Baywatch Nights.

The Outsider (streaming Jan. 12 on HBO Now): The murder of a small-town Georgia child leads to a solid-but-not-really case against a teacher (Jason Bateman), so it’s up to a pair of mismatched PIs (Ben Mendelsohn and Cynthia Erivo) to crack it. Spoiler: The Outsider is based on a Stephen King novel, so there’s supernatural shit afoot. As with King adaptation Mr. Mercedes (which no one saw), subtlety makes it work.

Curb Your Enthusiasm (streaming Jan. 19 on HBO Now): Season 10?! Damn. When last we left Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry (Larry David) was about to be assassinated over Fatwa! The Musical (2017 was a gentler time). We can assume he survived, unless CYE is going with an elaborate, Garfield Minus Garfield-esque setup of J.B. Smoove talking to himself for 10 episodes … which actually sounds amazing. R.I.P., Larry.

Avenue 5 (streaming Jan. 19 on HBO Now): Cocky Ryan Clark (Hugh Laurie) captains Avenue 5, a 1-percenter luxury cruise liner with an upgrade: It’s a spaceship. When a routine trip around Saturn goes awry, Capt. Clark and his crew aren’t up to the challenge of correcting course, calming passengers or paying NASA to save them. Avenue 5 is from the Veep people, so it’s at least funnier than Netflix’s Lost in Space.

Star Trek: Picard (streaming Jan. 23 on CBS All Access): As annoyingly reductive as the nostalgia-reboot trend is, there’s always room for more Star Trek—and if it involves Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), even better. Picard picks up with the retired Starfleet commander in 2399, taking on a new mission with help from new and classic characters (including ex-Borg Seven of Nine in odd militant-hippie mode). Make it so!

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (streaming Jan. 24 on Netflix): Fashion-forward witch Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) can only save her boyfriend from Madam Satan (Michelle Gomez) and her clutches in Hell by assuming the throne as queen of the underworld to defend it against the Prince of Hell. Meanwhile, a pagan carnival rolls into Greendale with apocalyptically evil intent—this new season is not screwing around. Still no Lucifer crossover, Netflix?

Shrill (streaming Jan. 24 on Hulu): Last year, Hulu debuted Shrill, a charming comedy about a large woman (Aidy Bryant, below) that wasn’t about making said large woman lose weight—yeah, crazy. Even crazier, as Season 2 opens, Portlander Annie (Bryant) is regretting quitting her job at the local weekly newspaper. Such regret doesn’t exist in 2020, nor do (last time I checked) local newspapers. Fake news, Shrill!

BoJack Horseman (streaming Jan. 31 on Netflix): Netflix is stretching out the sixth and final season of BoJack Horseman, the Citizen Kane of alcoholic-horse cartoons, by splitting it up; these are the last eight episodes, sadly. In October’s Part 1, BoJack (the voice of Will Arnett) finally got his act together, but Part 2 looks to blow it all up. Don’t be fooled by the talking animals: This is smart, emotional storytelling—binge it, hard.

Published in TV