Well, we still can’t go to the movies—it may be the least of our problems, but it still really sucks. So instead of my typical roundup of new theatrical releases, I’m using this space to write about what’s going on in the world of streaming, where approximately 98.87% of our entertainment now exists. This list will be updated each week with talked-about new film and TV releases, surprise hits, things to avoid at all costs, free stuff to catch while you can, and gems from back when movies and TV shows actually got made.
THE INNOCENCE FILES Investigations into possible wrongful convictions have been big in podcasting for years now—the best one yet, season two of In the Dark, just got Curtis Flowers freed by the U.S. Supreme Court after 20 years on death row—but they’ve been slow to cross over into the streaming world. This nine-episode documentary series from Netflix is a huge step toward changing that, spotlighting shocking miscarriages of justice with a star-studded pool of directors like Oscar winner Alex Gibney at the helm. Just try to get through the early episodes’ exploration of the work of dentist and bite mark “expert” Michael West without wondering how our criminal justice system could be so terrifyingly screwed up. (Netflix)
INTO THE DARK: DELIVERED In this New Anthology Golden Age spawned by the success of shows like Black Mirror and American Horror Story, Hulu’s Into the Dark is my newest favorite. In fact, it may be the most ambitious horror anthology ever. Not because of its gimmick of having every episode tied in some way (sometimes barely) to a particular holiday, but because producer Jason Blum (who has been bending and reshaping the genre over the last few years with films like Get Out, The Purge and its sequels, and a lot more) went all out for Blumhouse’s first TV show. Every ep is, more or less, a feature film, running just under an hour and a half. Considering these have come out every month over two seasons, this is a massive undertaking. It took a while to find its bearings, and like any anthology it has its clunkers, but over the last year it keeps topping itself with standouts like “Treehouse,” “Pure” and “Midnight Kiss.” “Delivered,” which debuts this week, is a Mother’s Day-themed outing that plays on the anxieties of pregnancy when an expectant mother finds herself in a Misery situation, kidnapped by crazies. For what purpose? Nothing good, that’s for sure! (Hulu)
SOLAR OPPOSITES This new animated Hulu series debuting May 8 about aliens stranded on Earth might sound like something corny along the lines of Third Rock From the Sun or Mork and Mindy—until you find out it’s from Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland, which allows you to times its funny and edgy factors by 437.8. (Hulu)
JERRY SEINFELD: 23 HOURS TO KILL My guess would be that viewings of Seinfield reruns are up somewhere between eight and one trillion percent during this pandemic lockdown. And, seriously, what is the deal with the people on this show who forgot that former sitcom legends are supposed to sit around and get irrelevant? Instead, they’ve continued on to other huge successes: Larry David with Curb Your Enthusiasm, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss with Veep, Michael Richards with … well, anyway, Jerry Seinfeld himself is as beloved as ever thanks to the success of his weird but awesome show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, and now he’s dropping his first original standup special in 22 years, making this the comedy streaming event of the year. (Netflix)
PUNK Wow, I am only one episode into this four-episode Epix documentary series about punk, but so far it’s been an hour of listening to people like Iggy Pop, Legs McNeil, Jayne County and Wayne Kramer talk about the beginnings of punk music in Detroit and New York. How did I know that’s what I wanted for my birthday? (Epix)