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6 New Shows to Watch This Week: From ‘The Essex Serpent’ to ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’

Also a new Stephen King movie!

Spring is fully in bloom and allergies on the rise. But if you have to lock yourself in your home to keep away from anything pollinating, there are plenty of options for stuff to watch. From a period drama with a big ass monster to horrors both supernatural and frighteningly real, we have got you covered. All you have to provide are the Kleenex and Zyrtec.

On with the television!

spring tv watch list premiere

“The Essex Serpent”

Friday, May 13, Apple TV+

Essex Serpent
Apple

How many prestige costume dramas have you watched and thought, This would be a lot more entertaining if there was a giant monster in it? (For me, the answer is: almost all of them.) “The Essex Serpent” serves to scratch that particular (and incredibly specific) itch. Based on the acclaimed 2016 novel by British author Sarah Perry, “The Essex Serpent” stars Claire Danes (in a role originally earmarked for Keira Knightley, who left due to “family reasons”) as a London widow who moves to the titular town to investigate several reported attacks by a giant serpent. In the town she encounters a handsome man of god (Tom Hiddleston) and starts to draw suspicion from the townsfolk, who begin to fear her arrival and the monster might be connected. The first two episodes of the six-episode limited series stream tonight, with additional episodes streaming weekly, which might be a problem if you love it so much and, like the titular beast, want to gobble it up all at once. [TRAILER]

spring tv watch list finale

“Winning Time”

Sunday, May 8 at 9 p.m., HBO

John C. Reilly and Michael Chiklis as Jerry Buss and Red Auerbach in "Winning Time" (HBO)
HBO

“Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty” has been one of the most compulsively watchable new shows of the year, as it follows the behind-the-scenes drama that led to one of the greatest winning streaks in NBA history. The brilliant cast, led by Quincy Isaiah as Magic Johnson and John C. Reilly as Jerry Buss, makes history come alive and the jittery stylistic flourishes, while occasionally grating, give the show a singular look unlike anything else on television (or streaming). (If you want more from this era, be sure to watch Johnson’s Apple TV+ documentary series “They Call Me Magic.” At the very least, it’ll make you realize that “Winning Time” could run for years.) The finale is a crescendo; as the first season of Johnson’s career (and Buss’ reign as the owner) comes to a close in the NBA Finals, things are at a boiling point. Should be just as fun as watching a big ticket basketball game. [REVIEW]

spring tv watch list movie

“Firestarter”

Friday, May 13, Peacock

firestarter-zac-efron
Universal Pictures

Stephen King’s 1980 novel has been adapted once before, in 1984, for a version that starred a young Drew Barrymore. (There was a negligible 2002 miniseries that aired on Syfy.) This new version of “Firestarter,” from “Paranormal Activity” and “Happy Death Day” producer Jason Blum and his company Blumhouse, stars Zac Efron as doting dad Andy McGee and newcomer Ryan Kiera Armstrong as his pyrokinetic daughter, who runs afoul of a secret organization called The Shop. (Indigenous actor Michael Greyeyes thankfully plays Rainbird this time around, a character essayed by George C. Scott in the original. Not a good look!) Perhaps the biggest reason to check out “Firestarter” might be its music, composed by John Carpenter and his collaborators Cody Carpenter (his son) and Daniel Davies (his godson). Famously Carpenter was set to direct the movie in the 1980s but the critical and commercial disappointment of “The Thing” led Universal to pull him off the project. Now he’s sparking to “Firestarter” all these years later. [TRAILER]

spring tv watch list documentary

“Our Father”

Wednesday, May 11, Netflix

Our Father
Netflix

Another Blumhouse horror movie of a different sort. “Our Father” follows the disgusting true story of a fertility doctor Donald Cline, who used his own sperm to impregnate countless women over decades and the “children” of this monster who banded together to fight back. What made this crime even more upsetting was the position of power that Cline had in the community, he was viewed as an upstanding citizen and was an elder in his church. This documentary looks shocking and eye-opening and what is even more repulsive is that several doctors have committed crimes like this – just think about how many were never caught or prosecuted. [TRAILER]

spring tv watch list re-watch

“Castle Rock”

Hulu

Castle Rock
Hulu

If “Firestarter” has you hungry for more Stephen King-y goodness, look no further than “Castle Rock,” Hulu’s ambitious, sadly short-lived series that served as a kind of remix/compendium of some of his best-known stories, re-contextualized in some fun new ways. Season 1 saw the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine, a frequent setting for King tales, rocked by the arrival of a supernatural figure known as The Kid (Bill Skarsgård), who had been locked away in Shawshank Prison for years. (Now you’re getting it.) Season 2 followed Annie Wilkes (a terrific Lizzy Caplan), pre-“Misery” and folded in elements of “’Salem’s Lot,” as the town falls under a new spell. “Castle Rock” was scary and intriguing, adding in meta layers like having King regulars like Tim Robbins and Sissy Spacek play key roles. And maybe most frustratingly was where the show could have gone had it continued. It was undoubtedly too odd and unsettling for Disney. But those two seasons we got were tops. [HULU]

spring tv watch list best of rest

“Candy”

Monday, May 9, Hulu

Jessica Biel is back! In “Candy,” Biel plays Candy Montgomery, an unassuming woman in 1980s Texas who is accused of killing her best friend Betty (the amazing Melanie Lynskey) after having an affair with Betty’s husband (Pablo Schreiber). While the title role for this based-on-a-true-story drama was originally meant for Elisabeth Moss, it’ll be good to see Biel bite into such a meaty part. And the behind-the-scenes talent on “Candy” is formidable; it was created by Nick Antosca and Robin Veith, veterans of “Hannibal” and “Mad Men” respectively. It’s always hard to say “no” to “Candy.” [TRAILER]

“Hacks”

Thursday, May 12, HBO Max

The Emmy-winning comedy is back for its second season on HBO Max. So if you aren’t on the “Hacks” bandwagon, now is the time to jump in. Jean Smart plays Deborah Vance, a once-legendary Las Vegas stand-up comedienne who recruits a young comedy writer (Hannah Einbinder) to freshen her act. The series, created by Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs and Jen Statsky, made a splash when it premiered last year. And unlike most sophomore seasons made in the pandemic times, we didn’t have to wait years for the follow-up! Huzzah! [TRAILER]

“The Kids in the Hall”

Friday, May 13, Prime Video

“The Kids in the Hall” last aired on April 15, 1995. Now one of Canada’s most famous comedy troupes is back with eight brand-new episodes on Prime Video. All five original members are back (Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson) and they look to be up to their old tricks again. Incredibly, this is Amazon’s first Canadian original series – and what a series it is. You might just laugh until a little pee comes out. But that’s okay! [TRAILER]

“The Lincoln Lawyer”

Friday, May 13, Netflix

Originally developed for CBS, with an entirely different cast, this Netflix original series, based on the character created by Michael Connelly (this season at least is based on his novel “The Brass Verdict”), was created by TV dynamo David E. Kelly. Who doesn’t want a David E. Kelly “Lincoln Lawyer” show? So weird. There were additional adjustments beyond the cast (now being led by Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, who replaced Logan Marshall-Green), of course – the episode order went from 13 to 10 and behind-the-scenes, the movie triggered an expensive lawsuit. But the important thing is that we’re finally getting a show about a rumpled lawyer who takes cases out of the back of his Lincoln. And that’s too delicious a premise to not pick up. [TRAILER]

“Senior Year”

Friday, May 13, Netflix

This looks like fun. It follows a cheerleader (Angourie Rice from the most recent “Spider-Man” movies) who suffers a head injury and falls into a coma before her senior prom. 20 years later she wakes up (and is now played by Rebel Wilson) and decides to finish high school. This is the kind of high-concept, low-stakes comedy that they used to make all the time but rarely do anymore and Wilson is a singular comedic force-of-nature. Even if it’s in the background while you’re folding clothes, “Senior Year” should get a few LOLs out of you. [TRAILER]

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