Season preview: streamers create a have/have-not world

As the Hollywood strikes continue, TV viewers are split into haves and have-nots.
Many will feel the impact this fall. They’ll wonder how many reality shows the human soul can absorb.
For others, it will be milder. Loaded with streaming networks, they’ll keep finding new shows.
It can’t last, of course. Even the streamers – which work far in advance – will sputter if the writers’ and actors’ strikes continue. But for now, life seems semi-normal.
One vivid example is Wednesday, Sept. 13. That’s when Apple TV+ launches the third season of “The Morning Show,” rippling with sharp dialog and vivid characters played Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon (shown here) and Jon Hamm. Read more…

Her restaurant life? It’s “crazy and wonderful”

If you watch any restaurant show – especially “The Bear,” the acclaimed drama-comedy that returns to Hulu on June 22 – there are two logical reactions:
1) I would never want to work in a restaurant. People fret, fail, shout, rage, agonize; they also have bad hours and are prone to addiction and alcoholism.
2) I’d really like to work in a restaurant. It looks like fun.
Courtney “Coco” Storer (shown here), the inspiration and “culinary producer” for “The Bear,” occasionally leans toward the first one. “I always ask myself, ‘Why am I doing this? Are you insane?’” she said.
But mostly, she’s with the second. “I love it,” she told the Television Critics Association. “I don’t think I’ll ever leave the hospitality world. As crazy as it is, I think it’s equal parts crazy as it is wonderful.” Read more…

In or out of prison, he was a warm dad

Tracy McMillan is an expert on life’s extremes.
She’s known the highs and the lows. The middle part – the comfy, cozy part – has been elusive.
Well, she did grow up in Minneapolis, in mid-America. And she spent several years with a warm foster family, led by a Lutheran minister.
But then she was back with her charismatic dad, whom she’s described as “a Billy Dee Williams type who committed crimes for a living.” That led to “UnPrisoned,” debuting Friday (March 10) on Hulu. Kerry Washington and Delroy Lindo (shown here) play people a lot like McMillan and her dad. The difference is that in this fictional version, he lives with her after prison. Read more…

Coming to Hulu: more, more and (yes) more

If you’re summarizing Hulu’s current line-up in three words, it might be “more,” “more” and “more.” And then maybe a little more.
At a time (late summer) when some networks nap, the streamer has a surge. There are a few big stars – two Steves (Martin and Carell) and, later, one Oprah. There are also names — Emayatzy Corinealdi, Chris Estrada, Travante Rhodes, D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai – you haven’t seen on many movie marquees.
Part of the surge is due to airing two major, second-season shows in the summer:
— “Only Murders in the Building” has new episodes Tuesdays, through Aug. 23. Its first season drew 17 Emmy nominations, including best comedy and comedy actors (Steve Martin and Martin Short, shown here with Selena Gomez).
— “Reservation Dogs” has new ones Wednesdays, through Sept. 28. Its first season won Peabody and American Film Institute awards. Read more…

“Only Murder” sequel is bloody-good fun

When we last saw Mabel, she was covered with blood and confusion.
Not to worry. She’s back in the second season of “Only Murders in the Building,” which seems to be even better than the first.
“Only Murders” was a pleasant pandemic surprise – a mini-series assembling mis-matched elements. It was mostly a murder mystery and drama, but added ample humor. It was mostly about old guys – Steve Martin and Martin Short (shown here, left and center), plus guest stars – but also centered on Selena Gomez.
Now the first two episodes of the second season have debuted on Hulu. The other eight will arrive – one per Tuesday – for the rest of the summer. Read more…

Serious Schumer? Funny Schumer? It’s time for both

The two sides of Amy Schumer are filling our TV time.
There’s the standup-comedy side, big and blunt and brash. That may emerge when she co-hosts (with Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall) the Academy Awards, at 8 p.m. Sunday (March 27) on ABC.
And there’s the subtle side, in the richly layered humor of her “Life & Beth,” which has just arrived on Hulu. “I actually am an introvert,” Schumer told the Television Critics Association.
Say what? Surely, this “introvert” can’t be the person who stands onstage, telling intimate details to strangers. “I could probably use a little more self-control in real life …. I’m sure I’ve shared more than some people would have cared” to hear, she said. Read more…

Condo crime comedy for these amigos

Let’s think of this as “Three Amigos Go Manhattan.” Only with a murder mystery. And a new amigo.
“Three Amigos,” in 1986, was the first pairing of Steve Martin and Martin Short; the third star was Chevy Chase. Now comes “Only Murders in the Building,” a droll, 10-part series that starts Tuesday (Aug. 31) on Hulu; the third star (shown here) is Selena Gomez.
Yes, one of these is not like the others. Martin is 76, Short is 71 … Gomez is 29. “I had no idea who they were,” she joked, at a Television Critics Association virtual press conference. Read more…

It’s a “Perfect” mini-series team

This is a blend that works neatly:
Start with two Australians – novelist Liane Moriarty and actress-producer Nicole Kidman …. Have David E. Kelley write a mini-series from a Moriarty novel … Then load up on other stars.
That worked for HBO’s “Big Little Lies.” In the first of its two seasons, “Lies” won the best-miniseries Emmy, plus seven others, including ones for Kidman and two of her co-stars.
And now the combination returns with Hulu’s “Nine Perfect Strangers” (shown here), starting Wednesday (Aug. 18). Read more…

Wiig has two roles here, one great and one …

It would be best to watch Kristen Wiig’s new movie with a large, loopy audience.
Date night would be good; bar night would be better. Alas, neither is likely.
Intended for movie theaters, “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar” was stopped by COVID. Ater a video-on-demand run, it has just debuted on Hulu. Home viewers will love some parts, but others will leave them going: “Huh?!?”
At the core are two terrific characters (shown hee), created by people who know comedy. Wiig was the go-to star of “Saturday Night Live” for years, then became a movie star. Annie Mumolo has had supporting and voice roles on TV and has written a few small movies and one big one. Read more…

Teen years are tough (and funny) the second time

The first time they were teenagers, Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle  found life was tricky.
“You’re hiding all of the freaky parts of yourself,” Erskine said.
And what’s it like, now that they’re teens again, in Hulu’s “Pen15” series? The more she gets into it, Konkle said, “the more confused I get about who I was.”
In “Pen15,” the actresses (both 33) play 13-year-old versions of themselves. (They’re shown here, with Erskine at the back of the bike.) Read more…