Of course you’re not tired of the Olympics yet. But it will end with the Closing Ceremony on Sunday, Aug. 8. And then what?
Perhaps all that indolence involved in watching the competition will inspire new ambitions to be more active and engaged in exertion. Perhaps not. August will bring multiple big-ticket diversions and enthralling entertainment on conventional TV and streaming. It will be a hot August, starting this week. Here’s a list of notable productions to keep in mind.
Obama: In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union (starts HBO/Crave Tuesday 9 p.m.) is a three-part study of Barack Obama’s path from Harvard law student to Illinois State Senator to the 44th U.S. president. The central theme is Obama (who plays no role in the series) as a unique figure in a curious cultural moment. He’s a Black man who does not share much of the experience of Black history in the U.S., he’s a man who sees and understands complexity in governing, and is hampered by an uncompromising Republican Party and a growing right-wing media seething with hostility.
Cooking with Paris (streams Netflix from Wednesday) presents Paris Hilton cooking with friends in her kitchen. Do not underestimate Hilton’s acumen and desire to reveal how her persona was created and what that persona means. Her one-off cooking show done last year for YouTube was a breathtakingly canny performance and a very shrewd commentary on fame.
Mr. Corman (streams Apple TV+ from Friday) is a dark, moody comedy created by, directed by and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He’s Josh Corman, teaching fifth grade at a public school and, one day, he has this crisis moment: He thinks he sucks as a person and his life sucks. There begins a journey toward all the missed chances and suppressed ambitions in his life. A coldly beautiful mediation on melancholy.
Anne Boleyn (streams Crave from Friday) comes from the U.K. and is emphatically not in the style of The Tudors. This feminist take, with colour-blind casting, is about Anne trying to take charge of political in-fighting inside the court of Henry VIII. Anne (Jodie Turner-Smith) is no scheming woman who casually seduced Henry, as pop-history suggests; she’s a tough woman sabotaged by a small gang of devious, angry men.
Untold (streams Netflix from Aug. 10) acts a kind of correction to the narrative of the Olympics. The five-part series goes deep into legendary controversies in sports, getting the protagonists and victims to speak. Included is the story of the Danbury Trashers, from the defunct United Hockey League, and the team’s connection to mobsters.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (starts NBC Aug. 12, later on Netflix) is back for its final season - much delayed by the pandemic - and NBC will air two episodes on Thursdays. Unlike with most comedies, don’t expect this to end in hugs; the satiric shenanigans are too delirious for that.
The Chair (streams Netflix from Aug. 20) is the first new series from Game of Thrones producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and couldn’t be more different. Created by actor Amanda Peet, it’s a marvellous, acid-tinged comedy set in academia. Sandra Oh stars as Dr. Ji-yoon Kim, who is appointed head of a university’s English department following a series of scandals. The stellar cast of comedic actors includes Jay Duplass, Holland Taylor, Bob Balaban and David Morse.
Chapelwaite (starts CTV SciFi channel Aug. 22) is a well-cast, grim but gripping series adaptation of a Stephen King story. A period piece, it’s about Captain Charles Boone (Adrien Brody) who takes his family of three children to Preacher’s Corners, Maine, after his wife dies at sea. Aspiring writer Rebecca Morgan (Emily Hampshire from Schitt’s Creek), turns up, hoping to be the family’s governess.
The Walking Dead (starts AMC Aug. 22, later on Netflix) returns for the long-running hit’s final season. There will be 24 episodes in three parts. The first eight-episode batch will be followed by parts 2 and 3, sometime in 2022.
Clickbait (streams Netflix Aug. 25) is a thriller mini-series starring Adrian Grenier as a father and husband, seemingly sweet and good-natured, who disappears, and then turns up in an online video which presents him as an abuser.
Finally, looking farther ahead, note that Money Heist (La Casa De Papel) returns for its fifth and final season on Labour Day weekend (streams Netflix from Sept. 3). It’s in two parts, with a second batch of episodes arriving in December.
This is my last column for several weeks. Be kind to each other and enjoy everything you watch.
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