Over the last year, streaming services have become (even) more serious about ensuring that we don’t get bored during our extended stay-at-home period. Netflix managed to keep going despite the introduction of many new streaming services, including Disney+ and HBO Max, and these two are ruling supreme this weekend as the services that provide the best value for money. On Disney+, we’ll see the season finale of their second Marvel Cinematic Universe series, as well as new episodes of John Stamos’ basketball-coach redemption show and two National Geographic shows. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier show, which is coming to a close this weekend, will undoubtedly be the must-see installment of the weekend, and as such, they are taking home the top prize this week. Given that HBO Max is still committed to doing blockbuster releases both in theaters and at home this year, the WarnerMedia streamer came incredibly close to edging out the competition. As a result, subscribers will be able to “finish” their weekend in (bloody) style with Mortal Kombat at no additional cost. The Nevers and Mare of Easttown, two new HBO Sunday night shows, will help you fill up your streaming time, but don’t forget about the other streaming options. BET+, Amazon Prime, Peacock, and Hulu all fought hard, and Apple TV+ is expected to come in strong next weekend. Starting with the winner, here are the best of this week’s offerings.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Disney+ series) — It’s time for the grand finale. Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes are still doing their buddy action-comedy thing, but things got a lot faster (to put it mildly) when John Walker transformed Captain America into a villain and was shot. This resulted in a genuine surprise cameo, but there are still a few loose ends to tie up. What is the role of the Power Broker? Will the show determine whether or not the Flag Smashers are bad guys? Let’s all hope for an exciting conclusion that clarifies the Sharon Carter/Batroc situation and then sends Bucky to Aruba, okay?
Big Shot (Disney+ series) — This series, starring John Stamos as a down-on-his-luck, fired NCAA coach who tries to get back on his (angry) feet with a ritzy private high-school job, was co-created and executive produced by David E. Kelley. Coach discovers that his new team profits from him expressing emotions other than anger and stoicism, so he must — gasp — learn to be vulnerable and empathetic. He might also improve as an individual in the process. Yvette Nicole Brown co-stars in the episode, and I’m hoping she gives Coach a hard time (dude seems like he deserves it).
Secrets of the Whales (Nat Geo series on Disney+) — National Geographic Explorer and Photographer Brian Skerry will show plenty of experience during this four-part special event aimed at celebrating Earth Day while exploring the latest technologies to highlight whales, including their friendships and traditions.
Earth Moods (Nat Geo series on Disney+) — This five-part series will premiere this weekend and will bring us different “moods” from around the world to help us relax and reconnect with nature. Each one will take us on a journey to help our minds reset, from glaciers to deserts to rain forests to towns. It all sounds great.
Mortal Kombat (Warner Bros. film on HBO Max) — This weekend, we’ll be watching another blockbuster-style film, and this one promises to be R-rated to the max, with plenty of bloodshed in keeping with the video game. James Wan made, among other qualifications to that extent, so that makes sense! In all seriousness, this is a more serious treatment than the 1990s film, and we’ll see Sub-Zero track down MMA fighter Cole Young, with someone losing out on the “finish him” concept. If you want a preview of the bloodshed coming to your TV screen, HBO Max has released the first seven minutes of the film ahead of time.
Mare Of Easttown (HBO series streaming on HBO Max) — Kate Winslet returns to HBO (a decade after her award-winning performance as Mildred Pierce) to play a hard-vaping detective in a small town, portraying and elevating the “complicated” cop trope. She’s enthralling as she delves into a murder mystery that’s rocked her small town and made everyone feel claustrophobic. Evan Peters, who plays her young, brash partner on the case, is electrifying, as is Jean Smart (who plays Mare’s mother) and Guy Pearce, who plays him understatedly (as the maybe-love interest). This show will reel you in and you won’t be able to get enough of it.
The Nevers (HBO series streaming on HBO Max) — This Joss Whedon-created show has an interesting premise about a group of “orphans” (almost entirely women) who are “gifted” with supernatural abilities. Despite the fact that there are far too many story lines (and some plot holes), there is plenty of butt-kicking and the atmosphere is fantastic. Despite the fact that the embattled Buffy and Firefly founder formally left the series last year, his influence will be felt. It remains to be seen if this hurts or benefits the show.
Pray, Obey, Kill (HBO series on HBO Max) — In a project directed by Henrik Georgsson of The Bridge, investigative journalists Anton Berg and Martin Johnson present a double-dose installment of a five-part documentary series. Follow Berg and Johnson as they retrace what happened on a chilly night in a small Swedish village, when a woman was murdered and a neighbor was shot until a nanny admitted to the murders while claiming an odd motive. This led to a scandalous tale of a love triangle and a link to a prior suspicious death. Yet is the whole mess tied to the local tight-knit Pentecostal congregation and its charismatic leader, who referred to herself as “The Bride of Christ”? Get ready for an unpredictable true-crime ride.
Our Towns (HBO series on HBO Max) — This film (based on the book Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America by journalists James and Deborah Fallows) focuses on how local efforts contribute to change that sparks a different future.
Shadow and Bone (Netflix series) — Do you need a little dream to help you forget about life for a while? You’ve come to the right place. This show is based on Leigh Bardugo’s bestselling Grishaverse novels and follows dark forces as they seek to destroy an orphan mapmaker (Alina Starkov), whose strength may be the key to changing a war-torn world. Alina must defeat the Shadow Fold threat and train as an elite magical soldier (a Grisha) while discovering that nothing is as it seems, and she must also navigate a gang of charismatic criminals to figure out who is an ally, who is an enemy, and who is both. The good news is that you don’t need to be familiar with the books to enjoy the first season of this show, so jump right in.
Stowaway (Netflix film) — For All Mankind will set the bar too high for any other space travel-themed streaming offering, but pay attention because the cast is incredible. When it comes to producing the drama, Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, Shamier Anderson, and Toni Collette are a dream team. As you might expect from the title, there’s a (inadvertent) stowaway onboard a three-person expedition to Mars, and this will have a significant impact on the oxygen supply. It’s not the most original space crisis you’ll ever see, but with a cast like this, the freak-out performances (and the solving of the dilemma within mere hours) are guaranteed to be worth the click.
Life in Colour with David Attenborough (Netflix series) — Earth Day needed this three-part series, and so does your soul. Or at least, I’m assuming that your soul will be soothed while watching Sir David Attenborough traveling from Costa Rica’s rainforests to Scottish Highlands’ snow-covered landscape to show the world how animals make extraordinary use of color. The show promises “revolutionary camera technology created specifically for this series” (according to Netflix) to reveal, uh, invisible-to-us colors? It’s fascinating, especially the details about a butterfly wing sending “seemingly magical ultraviolet signals” and the revelation of what a Bengal tiger’s stripes truly signal.
Zero (Netflix series) — This new Italian original series illuminates the power of invisibility with a new kind of superhero (a modern hero), who discovers his powers while hoping to save his suburb outside of Milan. In the process, the shy teen must at least wear a hero’s clothing while discovering the power of friendship and love.
Chadwick Boseman: Portrait Of An Artist (Netflix documentary) — Following the Black Panther and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom star’s too-soon death last August, the streamer fathered an all-star team for this documentary that aims to explore “Boseman’s extraordinary commitment to his craft [and] an intimate look at the Oscar-nominated actor’s artistry and the acting process which informed his transformative performances.” Settle in for a long list of participants, including Viola Davis, Danai Gurira, Spike Lee, Phylicia Rashad, and Glynn Turman. This one will be available for a limited 30-day window, so don’t let it languish in your queue for too long.
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-creators fixation with the 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.
Bigger (BET+ series) — Season 2 brings back the fan-favorite Will Packer comedy about thirty-somethings living in Atlanta, while they attempt to maneuver their way through, well, life. That would include professional, personal and other such obstacles, all while searching for love and dealing with uncomfortable truths on occasion. The whole season’s dropping at once, only on BET+
Invincible (Amazon Prime series) — This animated romp drops a new episode and 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.
Them (Amazon Prime limited series) — In more ways than one, this story will undoubtedly remind horror fans of Jordan Peele’s Us, and for good reason. The first season of this show, which aims to anthologize American-bred terror, is set in the 1950s. Allison Pill is always terrifying, and in this episode, she’s terrorizing a Black family that moves into an all-white LA neighborhood and discovers that the welcoming committee isn’t there for them. The horror show starts soon after, and it’s pure nightmare fuel from both a realistic and supernatural perspective.
Sasquatch (Hulu series) — So officially, this is a documentary series, although the Duplass Brothers are behind the project, so you gotta know that the show’s approach will be anything but straightforward. The series promises to dig into a gruesome triple homicide that was allegedly carried out by Bigfoot back in the 1990s. Investigative journalist David Holthouse promises to tell the craziest story that he’s ever heard, even after his undercover dives into Nazi groups and violent gangs. He heads back to the Redwoods (and the infamous Emerald Triangle) in search of the truth about those homicides, and somehow, there’s a bunch of cannabis involved, and that could directly be tied to the murders? This title arrives on April 20, so that (and the tone of the trailer, with distorted voices and a purposefully over-dramatic approach) probably tells us a lot.