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1. “#blackAF” Season 1 available April 17
Why Should I Watch? “#blackAF” marks the first Netflix original series from Kenya Barris after the “black-ish” and “grown-ish” and “mixed-ish” creator signed his $100 million overall deal with the streamer, and to mark the occasion, he’s putting himself in front of the camera. Co-starring with Rashida Jones, Barris plays a fictionalized version of himself: a very successful screenwriter and producer who’s also trying to be a good-ish husband to his wife, Joya Jones and adequate-ish father to their six children. If any of that sounds familiar, it should. “#blackAF” makes no bones about its similarities to Barris’ breakout ABC sitcom, recasting Anthony Anderson with the writer/creator he was always representing, and adding more F-bombs, drug use, and other adult themes to match the unrestricted nature of Netflix. Throw in a shooting style akin to “Modern Family” and “#blackAF” is the family comedy hybrid aimed at parents looking to keep it a bit more real.
Bonus Reason: The Season 1 finale features a star-studded lineup of guests, including Tyler Perry, Ava DuVernay, and Lena Waithe — all playing themselves. If the names alone aren’t enough reason to watch, the episode focuses on how black writers and directors gauge reactions from audiences, critics, and the subsets of each. Who decides what movies are good? Kenya’s quest to find out should spur plenty of discussion online and off.2. “Middleditch & Schwartz” available April 21
Why Should I Watch? The names themselves should be the first hook. Ben Schwartz of “Parks and Recreation,” “House of Lies,” and now, I guess, “Sonic the Hedgehog” fame and Thomas Middleditch from “Silicon Valley,” “Zombieland: Double Tap,” and, lest we forget, “You’re the Worst” are longtime improvisers who traveled the country performing long-form improv together you know, back when you could still do that. Their completely unplanned, unwritten, and unrehearsed shows were sparked by a quick conversation with an audience member, before the two comedians launched into hourlong improv scenes. Now, with the team’s tour suspended, three of those shows are coming to Netflix. Enjoy!
Bonus Reason: While, yes, you could spend your quarantine time watching this duo’s more high-profile projects, but a why spend $20 on “Sonic the Hedgehog” when Schwartz’s talents are limited to his voice? b even though the ending of “Silicon Valley” is pretty solid, can the sixth season of anything compare to a brand new experience pulled straight from Middleditch’s brain? c and, finally, you have plenty of time. Just watch...
Welcome to Out of the Disney Vault, where we explore the unsung gems and forgotten disasters currently streaming on Disney+.
With recent global events, plenty of people are resorting to nostalgia and comfort when it comes to their movie watching. Whether it’s that comedy you love or a family-friendly movie you loved as a kid, few things can help calm you down when the world seems chaotic quite like a good movie. That’s why for this week’s Out of the Disney Vault column, I decided to re-watch one of my favorite Disney animated movies, which is usually ignored when discussing the Disney Renaissance: The Great Mouse Detective.
What do you get when you combine Disney animation magic, a Sherlock Holmes-like mystery, film noir aesthetic, and one of the most deliciously diabolical and elegant Disney villains, voiced by none other than Vincent Price? One hell of a good time to get you through these social-distancing times.The Pitch
As we’ve mentioned in this column before, the ‘80s was a dark period for Disney, infamous for the string of financial flops for the company. When it became obvious that Disney executives, particularly Jeffrey Katzenberg, weren’t happy with how The Black Cauldron was turning out, an adaptation of Eve Titus’ book series “Basil of Baker Street” was approved as an alternative. But when Cauldron became a huge financial flop, Disney CEO Michael Eisner slashed the production budget in half, from $24 million to around $10 million, and moved the release date up, giving the production year a single year to complete the film.
Because of the short time for production, The Great Mouse Detective features five different directors, including the directorial debuts of two future prominent Disney animation figures: Ron Clements and John Musker. The film follows the titular great detective, Basil of Baker Street voiced by Barrie Ingham. He’s pretty much a stand-in for Sherlock Holmes, and lives in the famed detective’s flat Holmes himself makes a quick appearance, and works with Dr. David Dawson Val Bettin, who just like a certain Watson, is returning from service in the Middle East.
Together they’re hired to solve the case of a toymaker that was kidnapped by the henchman of criminal mastermind, Professor Ratigan Price.The Movie
In many ways, The Great Mouse Detective feels like a better version of what The Black Cauldron tried to do – it takes a genre usually aimed at a slightly older audience, and make it accessible for everyone. But unlike the latter, The Great Mouse Detective very much feels like a dark detective noir, but it’s a film kids can still see and enjoy. The visual palette feels straight out of a classic detective film of the ‘50s and ‘60s, with gloomy greens and grays that bring the melancholic and grim Victorian Era London to life...
SPOILER ALERT: If you are among the few who haven’t actually watched Netflix’s Tiger King docuseries, this review contains a lot of details about what goes down in the sad big cat saga.
With Netflix poised in the coming days to cash in and crank the base up a notch with more Tiger King, it's time to come out and say it: I hate the Red State porn that is the crash and burn of Joe Exotic
The initial seven episodes of this septic and shallow patchwork of trademark infringement, sex, guns, labor exploitation, song, drugs, mullets, betrayal, animal activism, revenge, and a lot of big cats may be much binged over these weeks of coronavirus lockdown, but that doesn't mean it's actually worth watching.
Now, I get it, I sound like I'm just a dour critic who hates anything that isn't prestige premium cable or aspirational. C'mon man, you want to say, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is just so unbelievable, I can't look away.
I respectfully disagree, and in fact, propose Tiger King isn't just bad, but dangerous in a divided America persistently looking to reduce the other side to caricature.
In a presently ailing nation where TV is more voluminous and vital than ever, the truth is the March 20 launched Tiger King is a clawed white trash misery index. Gawking at some clearly fragile and damaged people like would-be reality TV star Exotic and their below the Mason-Dixon line antics, the series subsequently provides a cultural circus for those smug bicoastals under stay at home orders and screaming to rise up in moral superiority.
Essentially, the tale of big cat collector, self-styled Oklahoma zoo proprietor and 2016 Presidential candidate Exotic AKA Joseph Maldonado-Passage and his ultimately unsuccessful attempt to have rival Carole Baskin knocked off by a hitman hired for $3,000, Tiger King is in that context more a zero-sum game, literally and figuratively, than hitting the zeitgeist.
Obviously, Netflix are pretty damn good at gauging and dragging the public mood over the years, as the likes of the then phenomenon of 2015's Making A Murderer or 2018’s Wild Wild Country prove. Yet, for all the attention it has drawn, this unfocused murder for hire exploration of sorts emerges as a bastard child of Cops, a million Dateline segments from the 1990s and Fox’s short-lived Murder in Small Town X reality show from 2001.
Not exactly the prestige product that the home of Roma, The Irishman and American Factory likes to brag about at award shows. Then again, with the knowledge that the Romans sold out the Colosseum every night feeding Christians to the lions, the bottom line based House of Hastings surely loves the subscription sign up that the currently incarcerated Maldonado-Passage and the accompanying motley gaggle of...