Skip to main content

Uma Thurman and Noah Emmerich in Suspicion, premiering globally on Apple TV+ on Feb. 4.Zach Dilgard/APPLE TV+

Sometimes, the way a TV series is promoted is misleading and amounts to a big mistake. But, hey, we all make mistakes.

Suspicion (streams on Appletv+) has been promoted as starring Uma Thurman. Thing is, she’s mostly absent from the early going. Events revolve around her character and her family, but it’s very much “around” her. What you’ve got instead of a drama built around one leading character, is a tense, involving thriller that requires your concentration, but rewards it.

Thurman is briefly in the first episode. She plays Katherine Newman, the CEO of a communications company. When she’s asked by senior FBI agent Anderson (Noah Emmerich, familiar as Stan Beeman on The Americans) what exactly she does, the answer amounts to, ah, constructing versions of events that are plausible but at odds with reality. In other words: Spin. That is actually the theme of the series and an absorbing one.

Catch up on the best streaming TV of 2021 with our holiday guide

See, Katherine’s son Leo has just been kidnapped in a hotel in New York. Surveillance video of the abduction has already gone viral because the kidnappers wore masks making them look like members of the British royal family. Exactly who took Leo, and what they want, is unclear. Next, however, we are in London, Oxford and Belfast. A small group of characters are defined for us. They seem ordinary, except for Tara (Elizabeth Henstridge), an Oxford prof whose specialty is the shaping of political movements and misinformation. Articulate and steely, she seems taken aback when she’s arrested while teaching a seminar. In fact, many of the characters we meet are arrested and questioned.

It turns out that all of them were in that hotel in New York when the abduction occurred. One for a business meeting (that guy is played by Kunal Nayyar, who was Raj on The Big Bang Theory), one for a bachelorette party and one to talk at a conference. There is footage of them at the hotel, on the day. Each also seems to have little secrets to hide. For the British police and the FBI, they are, obviously, the culprits. Some even have some vague ties to Katherine Newman’s company. And yet, you know, you just know, there’s something deeply suspicious about how easily a fiction about their involvement can be created. It’s a slow-burner, this one (two episodes stream now, followed by weekly single episodes on Fridays), but smart, and gets stronger as it develops.

Also airing/streaming this weekend

Lily James in Pam & Tommy, showing on Disney+.Courtesy of Disney+

Pam & Tommy (streams on Disney+) sounds sassy and mischievous, but isn’t. Lily James stars as Pamela Anderson, and Sebastian Stan plays her husband, Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee. The leak of their honeymoon sex tape is the focus, but as drama it is all delivered with such a juvenile, frantic sense of buffoonery, it gets wearyingly childish. Yep, somebody provides the voice of Tommy Lee’s penis, if the already prurient gloss wasn’t enough to guide your interest. Good luck with that.

The Beijing Olympics are under way and I wish I could give you details on what exactly is broadcast and at exactly what time. But your frustrations are my frustrations, especially with knowing in advance what’s on the CBC and streaming on CBC Gem. The Globe Sports section will provide an updated “What to Watch” for TV coverage. Go there daily.

But here’s a skeleton list for the weekend on the CBC’s main network – Saturday, 8 a.m., curling, Canada vs. United States, mixed doubles round robin; at 9 a.m., it’s hockey, United States vs. Russian Olympic Committee, women’s preliminary; at 11 p.m., figure skating, team event. On Sunday, at 1 a.m. it’s curling, Canada vs. Czech Republic, mixed doubles round robin. On Sunday, 6 a.m. it’s freestyle skiing, women’s moguls. Also on Sunday, at 8 a.m. it’s curling, Canada vs. Australia, mixed doubles round robin. And on Sunday, 8 p.m. it’s figure skating, the team event final in pairs free, ice dance free and women’s free. Finally, Sunday, at midnight, it seems, hockey, Canada vs. ROC, women’s preliminary.

Oddly, NBC is more generous with information. On Saturday, in the 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. slot it has the men’s moguls final and helpfully points out, “Canada’s Mikaël Kingsbury – arguably the most dominant athlete in any Winter Olympic sport – competes in the men’s moguls final. Kingsbury is the defending Olympic gold medallist, a three-time world champion, and nine-time overall World Cup champion.” Thank you, NBC.

Plan your screen time with the weekly What to Watch newsletter. Sign up today.