The others had their time to show off. We got elves on Amazon, dragons on HBO, spectacle on both.
Now it’s Disney’s turn. “Disney+ Day” (Thursday, Sept. 8) has the streaming service introduce a flurry of shows in one big batch.
There’s a movie that could have been in theaters (a non-cartoon “Pinocchio,” with Tom Hanks) and one that was (“Thor: Love and Thunder”). There’s animation, via “Cars on the Road” and some shorts. There’s a mini-series (“Wedding Season”), two making-of specials and more.
And there are documentary series from young filmmakers Bertie Gregory (shown here) and Brie Larson. Those two shows feel like opposites; they are:
— “Growing Up” looks at the difficulties of teen years. “No one can escape the growing-up experience,” Larson told the Television Critics Association. “We’re all still growing.”
Her childhood was especially hectic. After her parents divorced, she lived in a one-room apartment with her mother and sister. In contrast, she was often cast in cheery TV comedies, before getting a serious role (and an Oscar) in “Room,” and then becoming the new Captain Marvel.
Now she’s produced a series profiling kids who have had complicated lives. Like Gaven Arneson, who lived in a homeless shelter after his parents split – then went on to be valedictorian and get a nursing scholarship to New York University. Or Clare Della Valle and Isabel Lam, who were in high school when they launched a program to get menstrual products to women and children in need.
The original plan – a documentary, following the teens around – was scuttled because of Covid. Instead, “Growing Up” mixes interviews, group chats and re-enactments.
That last part brought a bonus for Valle and Lam: An Oscar-winner (Larson) was directing their episode. “I’m not an actor or anything,” Valle said. “Getting some tips from Brie was very fun.”
— “Epic Adventures with Bertie Gregory” is, in many ways, the opposite of “Growing Up.” This is not inner turmoil, but outer danger. Gregory, 29, reflects a cheery sort of semi-rural childhood
He grew up in southern England. “I was near farm land and I made friends with the farmer and he let me explore his land. It was things like deer and kingfishers and foxes and badgers,”
These weren’t exotic creatures, he grants, “but the excitement that I got from getting close to those animals” is similar to what he has now “with a polar bear. I just can’t get enough of it.”
He stole his dad’s camera at 12 or 13, then got his own. By 23, he had his own British series, “Wild Life.” He helped film the BBC’s “Seven Worlds, One Planet,” did some shorts and then was ready to tackle a series that wants to live up to its “Epic” title.
One episode went to Antarctica “to try and film the biggest gathering of fin whales ever. We spent six weeks on a sailboat. We had to cross the Drake Passage, one of the roughest parts on the planet.”
Another was in Zambia. One night “I walked into my room and there was a crocodile in my bed. …. I’d love to tell you that I was really brave, but I wasn’t. I screamed.”
He found his guide, who thought it was a joke. “It took about 10 minutes for me to convince him” to
look. “Then he comes flying out of my room and goes, ‘Bertie, there’s a crocodile in your room!’”
The guide managed to get the croc wrapped up and whisked it away. It was just another day in a life that spans the planet, from Anarctica to Zambia.