Apple TV+

Apple’s less-is-more approach brings quality

As Apple TV+ sets its line-up, one thing is clear: The less-is-more approach sort of works.
Other streamers are into more-is-more, the scheme that propelled Netflix. They spend billions and run up huge deficitts, to assemble lots of subscribers worldwide. Various reports put Netflix at 223 million subscribers, Amazon Prime at 200 million, Disney+ at 164 million and HBO Max at 77 million.
By comparison, Apple has fewer viewers (34 million last year) and fewer shows. But many of those shows have made an impact; they’re led by the Emmy-winning “Ted Lasso” and the much-praised “Schmigadoon” (shown here), “Severance” and “The Morning Show.”
Now Apple has announced that “Schmigadoon” will return April 7 and “Lasso” will be back sometime this spring. Meeting with the Television Critics Association, it set these dates: Read more…

It’s handy to have a superstar neighbor

Being nice to your neighbors is always important, we’re told.
But it’s especially important if your neighbor is Hollywood’s all-time box-office champion. That sort of explains why Harrison Ford has a supporting role (ahown here)n in “Shrinking,” the witty new Apple TV+ show.
“Harrison’s my neighbor and so I knew him a little bit …. He’s a good dude,” Bill Lawrence told the Television Critics Association, sounding fairly casual about living near Han Solo and Indiana Jones. Read more…

A “silly” actor conquers a deep, disturbing role

By now, we know Samuel L. Jackosn as a fun guy.
He’s does all those commercials, alone and with Spike Lee and Charles Barkley. He’s Nick Fury in Marvel shows; he hosts award shows for movies, sports and videogames. He does the cartoon voices of a dog, a dinosaur a superhero and more.
So it’s a detour to see him in “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey” (shown here), which arrives Friday (March 11) on Apple TV+. Here is Jackson, 73, as a 93-year-old man, clinging to tiny shards of his memory. Was he able to retain his fun side?
“Yeah, I’m not a method actor,” he said. Between scenes, colleagues saw “how silly I can be.” Read more…

Magic’s life will become a streaming series

Magic Johnson’s life is now being turned into a four-part documentary series for Apple TV+.
The announcement was made Thursday, three days before the anniversary of a key day: On Nov. 7, 1991, Johnson (shown here) announced that he had tested positive for HIV.
That was at a time when AIDS was considered a death sentence. Johnson, now 62, threw himself into the newest medical protocols and has thrived for 30 years. Read more…

Getting “Physical” in the ’80s got complicated

For Rose Byrne, this has been a bumpy ride through feminist history.
She was Gloria Steinem, glowing with 1970s confidence. Now (shown here) she’s the fictional Sheila Rubin, temporarily staggered by ‘80s self-doubt.
First was the “Mrs. America” mini-series, with Byrne drawing praise (and award nominations) as Steinem. Now Apple TV+ has “Physical,” with three episodes Friday and the other seven weekly.
“In a funny way, ‘Physical’ felt like such a great companion piece,” Byrne said. Her character “definitely has come up through the ‘60s and ‘70s, so she’s sort of a child of that movement.” Read more…

“Mosquito Coast” spans Theroux generations

You kind of expect Justin Theroux to be well-read.
His mom is a novelist. His dad is merely a lawyer, but four paternal uncles have written novels.
And his link to “The Mosquito Coast” – by Paul Theroux, one of those uncles – is especially strong. “I have a long history with the novel,” he told the Television Critics Association.
He was 10 when it was published, 15 when it became a movie, with Harrison Ford and River Phoenix. And now, at 50, he stars in a seven-hour mini-series (shown here) that starts Friday (April 30) on Apple TV+ Read more…

Here’s a big jump in social-distance TV

The art of social-distance television has advanced quickly.
It’s been like watching evolution at hyper-speed. In just two months, the lowly water slug has transformed into a mighty cheetah.
OK, maybe just into a less-lowly land slug. But it’s been impressive, anyway.
The latest example – and the best so far – is an episode of “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet,” arriving today (May 22) on Apple TV+.With some great moments for Charlotte Nicdao (shown here in an earlier episode) and Rob McElhenny (who wrote it), it’s witty, warm (briefly) and ends with a dandy visual stunt. Read more…

Even now, there’s joy and Earth Day

In the midst of a pandemic, with his plans tossed aside, Oliver Jeffers was talking about joy.
Yes, joy. That goes back to his Belfast boyhood, with a mother bed-ridden by multiple sclerosis.
“We’d ask how she was and every day she’d say, ‘Great,’” recalled Jeffers, whose sunny, animated film (shown here) reaches Apple TV+ on Friday (April 17). “She said, ‘Every day that the sun comes out and I see my four children, I’m happy.’” Read more…