'Now See This' Newsletter: One 'Great' Premiere and Two Newly Streaming Favorites

1:21 PM 5/15/2020

by THR staff


Welcome to Now See This, THR chief TV critic Daniel Fienberg’s weekly viewer guide newsletter dedicated to cutting through the daunting clutter of the broadcast, cable and streaming TV landscape! Comments and suggestions welcome at daniel.fienberg@thr.com.

This is a web version of THR's Now You See This newsletter. To receive the newsletter by email each week, click here.

  • Not Quite 'Great' But VERY Good

    We won’t be getting a new season of Succession in 2020, which gives me some sadness, but some similar darkly comedic meditations on family, opulence and power run through Tony McNamara’s Hulu dramedy The Great. Though the 10-episode series plays fast and loose with the history of Catherine the Great’s ascension to the Russian throne, it’s full of delightfully profane dialogue, impressive costumes and production design and great performances, led by a wicked Elle Fanning and a loopy Nicholas Hoult. THR TV critic Inkoo Kang was perhaps a hair less enthusiastic about the The Favourite-esque series, describing it as “consistently entertaining,” but lamenting the “more conventional tale of royal intrigue” at its heart. She calls it “a lemon tart topped with moose lips,” which will make more sense after you watch. Which you should!

  • 'C’mon N’ Ride It (The Train)'

    Bong Joon-Ho’s film Snowpiercer premiered in theaters in 2013 and development on a TV adaptation began in 2015, landed at TNT in 2016 and was ordered to series in 2018. It finally premieres this Sunday and the resulting show, featuring deft work from Jennifer Connelly and Alison Wright, among others, is neither a worthy successor to the film (and prior graphic novel) or an unmitigated disaster. As the Russian ruler in The Great would say, “Huzzah?”

  • Dust Off Your Rambaldi Clues

    After a brief window of streaming unavailability, JJ Abrams’ beloved ABC spy thriller Alias is back! Or at least its original five-season run is back, streaming on Amazon. If you’re keeping score at home, the stylish caper, featuring a never-better Jennifer Garner, had two great seasons, two messy and forgettable seasons and one season I literally forget existed. Still, if you haven’t rewatched the Abrams-directed pilot, it’s an all-time great.

  • No, Not James Cameron’s 'Avatar' or M. Night Shyamalan’s 'The Last Airbender'

    Speaking of things returning to streaming, Nickelodeon’s magnificent animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender joins Netflix on May 15. Created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, this story of a 12-year-old with special elemental powers is probably aimed at younger viewers, but like so many great anime-inspired offerings, it’s really fun for all ages.

  • Travel From Your Couch

    Even if your state is beginning to loosen stay-at-home restrictions, when are you going to feel in the mood to head to a chaotic airport, board a crowded plane and travel to a new place where you can’t be sure of the health of the populace? Fortunately, Inkoo and I have some quarantine recommendations for TV shows that let you travel from the comfort of your couch.

  • Remembering Jerry Stiller

    The great Jerry Stiller died this week at the age of 92. To honor one familiar part of his comic legacy, TBS is airing 10 episodes of Seinfeld featuring Stiller as Frank Costanza from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 16.

  • This Week's THR Staff Pick:

    THR Digital Media Editor Natalie Jarvey writes: “I’ve been a casual fan of Top Chef for a few years but missed many of the early seasons. So when my husband and I discovered that the full library was available on Hulu, we knew it would be the perfect addition to a self-isolation that already included lots of home cooking and sourdough baking. We started our binge with 2009’s Top Chef: Las Vegas, which is simply an amazing season of reality TV and which introduced the world to Bryan Voltaggio, Kevin Gillespie and Jennifer Carroll. Because Top Chef producers like to bring back contestants and guest judges year after year, watching an episode of the show can feel like sitting down to dinner with old friends — an interaction I’m desperately missing right now.”