Worth Watching: Apple’s ‘Slow Horses,’ Amazon’s ‘Outlaws,’ Disney’s ‘Nate’
Meet the spies on the lowest rung of the British Security Service in the darkly humorous thriller Slow Horses. Another band of misfits finds intrigue while doing community service in the comedic The Outlaws. A Broadway baby’s dream comes true in Disney’s Better Nate Than Ever. CBS hit Blue Bloods returns with another family crisis. Comedian Jerrod Carmichael, who hosts Saturday Night Live this week, headlines an HBO stand-up special.
Imagine James Bond as an unloved Eeyore of the British spy trade. That’s the clever premise of a darkly amusing thriller based on Mick Herron’s books set at Slough (rhymes with “ow”) House, a dumping group for disgraced MI-5 agents. An amusing Gary Oldman stars as the slovenly leader of this motley team, who get embroiled in a kidnapping case where any wrong move could end their already sad careers. The twist: These outcasts are actually pretty good at their job. (See the full review.)
Another offbeat British hybrid combines comedy with an undercurrent of suspense, courtesy of creators Stephen Merchant (The Office) and Elgin James (Mayans M.C.). As their disparate pedigrees indicate, The Outlaws is a fresh approach to a misfit comedy, with a sterling cast led by Christopher Walken, Merchant, Darren Boyd—and Poldark’s Eleanor Tomlinson as a celebutante who joins a crew of hard-luck miscreants doing community service in lieu of jail time. Rhianne Barreto is the focal point as Rani, a scholarship student and shoplifter who’s especially ill equipped when these benign outlaws run afoul of organized crime.
A charming wish-fulfillment fantasy for any kid who ever dreamed of Broadway (I relate), this tuneful comedy film introduces the charismatic Rueby Wood as 13-year-old Nate from Pittsburgh, an outlier obsessed with musicals. He gets his shot at the big time when his parents (including Broadway star Norbert Leo Butz—from the original cast of, yes, Wicked) leave town and he hops a bus to Manhattan with his best friend Libby (the appealing Aria Brooks) to audition for a musical version of Lilo & Stitch (Disney synergy alive and well). His misadventures reunite Nate with his aunt Heidi (Lisa Kudrow, marvelous as always), a struggling actress who sees herself in this adorable kid’s ambitions. Tim Federle is director and writer, adapting his own novel.
Series star Bridget Moynihan makes her debut as director in an episode where devious Mayor Chase (Dylan Walsh) doesn’t bother to tell Police Commissioner Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) that he’s requested his son Jamie (Will Estes) to lead his security detail. How does Frank react to being kept out of the loop? Not well.
It’s a busy weekend for comedian Jerrod Carmichael. He hosts this weekend’s Saturday Night Live, but first, he headlines his third HBO stand-up comedy special, taped in February at New York City’s fabled Blue Note Jazz Club. Bo Burnham (Inside) is his director.
Welcome to Final Four weekend. Before the men’s teams play Saturday and Monday, the Final Four women’s teams square off in Minneapolis in the Target Center. The games, airing on ESPN, begin with two No. 1 seeds, Louisville and South Carolina, playing at 7 pm/ET, followed by No. 2 UConn vs. No. 1 Stanford at approximately 9:30 pm/ET. The winners will proceed to the championship game Sunday at 8 pm/ET, also on ESPN.
Boyhood director Richard Linklater reflects on his own childhood in this rotoscope-animated nostalgic reverie. Set in the summer of 1969, Apollo is narrated by Jack Black as the adult version of Stan, a boy growing up in Houston, Texas and harboring astronaut dreams as the real-life NASA crew of Apollo 11 makes history with the inaugural moon landing.
The Apple Tree: Some highlights from ongoing Apple TV+ series:
- Severance: In the penultimate episode of the workplace satire/thriller, rebellion is brewing among the members of Mark’s (Adam Scott) team. (Fans will want to check out a companion novella, Severance: The Lexington Letter, published by Apple Books.)
- The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey: Also nearing the end, with one episode to go, this brilliant adaptation of Walter Mosley’s novel brings Ptolemy (Lifetime Achievement Oscar winner Samuel L. Jackson) closer to fulfilling his mission for his loved ones—if his mind can hold out.
- Pachinko: In the fourth chapter of this moving epic, Sunja (Minha Kim) embarks on a journey in 1931 from her native Korea to Japan alongside her new husband, while in 1989, the elderly Sunja (Yuh-Jung Youn) prepares to return to her homeland after nearly 60 years.
Inside Friday TV:
- RuPaul’s Drag Race (8/7c, VH1): The outspoken queens are in roast mode, with judge Ross Mathews their target. The Daily Show’s Dulcé Sloan is guest judge.
- True Crime Watch: ABC’s 20/20 (9/8c) revisits the 20-years-ago murder of West Coast lawyer Larry McNabney, with John Quiñones interviewing the daughter of his killer, Laren Sims, the victim’s fifth wife (then known as Elisa). On Dateline NBC (9/8c), correspondent Andrea Canning reports on the twisted case of ex-NYPD police officer Valerie Cincinelli, accused of a murder-for-hire plot targeting her husband.
- Fire Shut Up in My Bones (9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): Great Performances at the Met presents the historic production of jazz musician/composer Terence Blanchard’s operatic adaptation of Charles M. Blow’s memoir, with a libretto by filmmaker Kasi Lemmons (Harriet). This was the Met’s first performance of an opera by a Black composer and also marked the company’s first show staged back in the legendary opera house after the pandemic shutdown.
- Magnum P.I. (9/8c, CBS): Barney Miller’s Max Gail guests in a moving subplot as a terminally ill veteran who connects with Magnum (Jay Hernandez), a volunteer with the No Veteran Dies Alone Program.
- Trivia Quest (streaming on Netflix): Sharpen your trivia skills with a daily interactive animated game featuring 24 questions (12 standard, 12 hard). A new episode drops every day this month.
- Get Organized with the Home Edit (streaming on Netflix): Home organizers Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin return for a second season, dispensing decluttering advice to celebrity clients including Drew Barrymore, Chris Pratt and wife Katherine Schwarzenegger, Kelsea Ballerini, Danielle Brooks and Kevin Hart.
- Sherlock (streaming on Crackle): Savor Benedict Cumberbatch’s Emmy-winning performance as a contemporary version of the legendary Sherlock Holmes in 13 episodes over four seasons (2010-17), streaming exclusively on Crackle for the next three years.