TV May 13-15: Hacks, Halston, High School Musical, I Am All Girls, The Woman in the Window, Love Death + Robots, Ferry, Trying, The Underground Railroad, The Last Hour, Sound of Metal, Pride, Horizon Line, Keegan-Michael Key on SNL

Busy day, busy week. I talked to some musicians about being featured in TV series. You can read about that here or in Thursday’s edition of the Winnipeg Free Press. But let’s move on to the season and series premieres for the next few days.

Thursday May 13

Hacks (series premiere with back to back episodes 8pmCT/9ET Crave, Crave app) Hailed as a “genius dark comedy” by Decider, the HBO Max Original series HACKS premieres with two episodes dropping ThursdayMay 13. Starring Jean Smart (MARE OF EASTTOWN, WATCHMEN, DESIGNING WOMEN), the 10-episode series explores a dark mentorship that forms between Deborah Vance (Smart), a legendary Las Vegas comedian, and an entitled, 25-year-old outcast named Ava (Hannah Einbinder). In addition to Smart and Einbinder, HACKS stars series regular Carl Clemons-Hopkins and recurring guest stars Kaitlin Olson, Christopher McDonald, Paul W. Downs, Mark Indelicato, Poppy Liu, Johnny Sibilly, Meg Stalter, and Rose Abdoo. HACKS follows a weekly release schedule, with two episodes dropping Thursdays.

Friday May 14

Halston (miniseries premiere Netflix) “follows the legendary fashion designer (Ewan McGregor), as he leverages his single, invented name into a worldwide fashion empire that’s synonymous with luxury, sex, status and fame, literally defining the era he lives in, 1970’s and ‘80’s New York — until a hostile takeover forces him to battle for control of his most precious asset… the name Halston itself. The series is Executive Produced by Ryan Murphy, Ian Brennan, Alexis Martin Woodall, Daniel Minahan, Ewan McGregor, Eric Kovtun, Sharr White, and Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler of Killer Films. Minahan also serves as the series director.” The casting looks like money to me:  Ewan McGregor – “Halston”, Krysta Rodriguez -”Liza Minnelli”, Rebecca Dayan – “Elsa Peretti”, Bill Pullman – “David Mahoney”, Gian Franco Rodriguez – “Victor Hugo”, David Pittu – “Joe Eula”, Sullivan Jones – “Ed Austin”, Rory Culkin – “Joel Schumacher”, Kelly Bishop – “Eleanor Lambert”, Vera Farmiga – “Adele”.

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (Season 2 premiere Disney+) “Flying high after the triumph of opening night, Ricky, Nini, Gina, and the Wildcats gather at Ashlyn’s for a New Year’s Eve party. Miss Jenn runs into the new North High rival theatre teacher – a.k.a her ex-boyfriend – and at the stroke of midnight, shocking revelations come to the surface.

I Am All Girls (movie premiere Netflix) “A relentless detective finds common ground with a killer systematically targeting the perpetrators running a powerful child-trafficking ring.”

The Woman in the Window (movie premiere Netflix) “Anna Fox (Amy Adams) is an agoraphobic child psychologist who finds herself keeping tabs on the picture perfect family across the street through the windows of her New York City brownstone. Her life is turned upside down when she inadvertently witnesses a brutal crime. Based on the gripping, best-selling novel and adapted by Tracy Letts, shocking secrets are revealed and nothing and no one are what they seem in this suspenseful psychological thriller starring Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie, Fred Hechinger, Wyatt Russell, Brian Tyree Henry, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Julianne Moore.”

Love Death + Robots (adult animated series premiere Netflix) “is a blast of the future with its roots deep in the past. Show creator Tim Miller teamed up with director David Fincher after years of wanting to make adult animated features and short films at his animation house Blur Studio. When his directorial debut Deadpool hit big, they saw their opportunity and the anthology series found a natural home at Netflix. “We couldn’t have been happier at the response to the show,” recalls Miller, of the excitement around season one and the appetite for more. “It was exactly the kind of passionate reception from animation fans David and I hoped for, but for many long years had been told wouldn’t happen.” For volume two, Miller was joined by Jennifer Yuh Nelson as Supervising Director. The Oscar-nominated director has vast animation experience – having worked in the industry for years and helmed Kung Fu Panda 2 and 3. Together they sought talented and diverse animation directors from around the world, for a blend of styles and stories ranging from violent comedy to existential philosophy. “It’s a tonal and stylistic Jenga game,” says Jennifer Yuh Nelson, “Trying to figure out which director might best handle what story.” ”

Ferry (film premiere Netflix) “The story starts in 2006 in the city of Amsterdam. Ferry Bouman works for drug lord Ralph Brink, a powerful criminal and Ferry’s mentor. One day the gang is brutally mugged and Ralph’s son is severely injured. When all leads point to a group of campers in Brabant, Ferry is sent out to find the perpetrators. After years of absence, Ferry returns to his beloved Brabant, which he had fled many years before. The difficult reunion with his estranged family, the return to the camper life he had forsaken and the meeting with his charming neighbor Danielle all gradually crawl under Ferry’s skin. His journey will lead to unexpected outcomes and put Ferry’s loyalty to the test…”

Trying (Season 2 premiere Apple TV+) Not only a second long-awaited season but news of a third-season renewal! “In the eight-episode second season of “Trying,” Nikki (BAFTA nominee Esther Smith) and Jason (SAG nominee Rafe Spall) are continuing to navigate the adoption process. Having been approved by the adoption panel, they now find that matching with a child is not as straightforward as they had hoped. It seems like children are being snapped up by other couples while somehow they’re being left behind. Helped by their eccentric social worker Penny (Imelda Staunton), they are determined to do everything they can. When Nikki meets a little girl called Princess at an adoption event, she knows instantly that this is the child for them. But there are obstacles to Nikki’s plan that may prove insurmountable. Returning cast also include Ophelia Lovibond (“Elementary,” “W1A”), Oliver Chris (“Motherland,” “Four Weddings and a Funeral”), Sian Brooke (“Sherlock,” “Good Omens”), Darren Boyd (“Killing Eve,” “Luther”) and Robyn Cara (“Life,” “Ackley Bridge”).”

The Underground Railroad (series premiere Amazon Prime Video) “chronicles Cora Randall’s (newcomer Thuso Mbedu) desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. After escaping a Georgia plantation for the rumored Underground Railroad, Cora discovers no mere metaphor, but an actual railroad full of engineers and conductors, and a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Over the course of her journey, Cora is pursued by Ridgeway (Joel Edgerton), a bounty hunter who is fixated on bringing her back to the plantation she escaped; especially since her mother Mabel is the only one he has never caught. As she travels from state to state, Cora contends with the legacy of the mother that left her behind and her own struggles to realize a life she never thought was possible. The Underground Railroad stars Thuso Mbedu, Chase W. Dillon and Joel Edgerton. Aaron Pierre, William Jackson Harper, Sheila Atim, Amber Gray, Peter De Jersey, Chukwudi Iwuji, Damon Herriman, Lily Rabe, Irone Singleton, Mychal-Bella Bowman, Marcus “MJ” Gladney, Jr., Will Poulter and Peter Mullan round out the cast.”

The Last Hour (movie premiere Amazon Prime Video) “The Last hour marks the Indian debut of renowned, Oscar-winning director Asif Kapadia as a Producer in this supernatural thriller set at a Himalayan hill station. Cast includes  Sanjay Kapoor, Karma Takapa, Shaylee Krishen, and Shahana Goswami.”

Sound of Metal (Crave, Crave app) This is not a premiere but given the higher profile it gained, you might want to know you can now watch it without paying per stream (as I did, having put off watching it for “free” on Amazon Prime back after its release). It is a gorgeous, though not always easy to watch movie. “Nominated for six Academy Awards in 2021, including Best Motion Picture and Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, the drama SOUND OF METAL is available for streaming on Crave on Friday, May 14. The film follows Ruben (Riz Ahmed) and Lou (Olivia Cooke), two nomad metal musicians traveling gig to gig, on an endless American tour. Their music is loud, frenzied, and passionate, until one day, Ruben is overwhelmed by a severe ringing in his ears, which quickly gives way to deafness and forces Ruben to face his past.”

Pride (doc series premiere 8pmCT/9ET FX) “a six-part documentary series chronicling the struggle for LGBTQ+ civil rights in America from the 1950s through the 2000s. Six renowned LGBTQ+ directors explore heroic and heartbreaking stories that define us as a nation. The limited series spans the FBI surveillance of homosexuals during the 1950s Lavender Scare to the “Culture Wars” of the 1990s and beyond, exploring the queer legacy of the Civil Rights movement and the battle over marriage equality. Featuring little-known characters such as Madeleine Tress or 1980s videographer Nelson Sullivan who chronicled a vanishing downtown New York City during the AIDS epidemic, the series also features international figures such as Civil Rights pioneer Bayard Rustin, writer Audre Lord and Senators Tammy Baldwin and Lester Hunt. The evolution of trans rights and identities through the decades is charted through interviews and archival footage of pioneers including Christine Jorgensen, Flawless Sabrina, Ceyenne Doroshow, Susan Stryker, Kate Bornstein, Dean Spade and Raquel Willis. PRIDE is executive produced by Alex Stapleton and VICE Studio’s Danny Gabai, Kama Kaina & Stacy Scripter and Killer Films’ Christine Vachon & Sydney Foos.”

Horizon Line (movie premiere Amazon Prime Video) “From the creators of 10 Cloverfield Lane and The Shallows, Horizon Line is a thrilling survival story about an estranged couple, Sara (Allison Williams) and Jackson (Alexander Dreymon) who discover new altitudes of fear aboard a single-engine plane. It was supposed to be a routine and casual 99-minute flight to their friend’s tropical island wedding. But within minutes after takeoff, their pilot suffers a fatal heart attack, leaving Sara and Jackson with no idea of where they are, no communication, and no clue on how to land the plane. With nothing but miles of ocean and sky in every direction, and a terrifying storm that’s about to envelop them, Sara and Jackson have only one shot – and there’s no going back.”

Saturday May 15

Saturday Night Live (10:30pmCT/11:30ET NBC Global) “Keegan-Michael Key will host for the first time on May 15. The Emmy Award winner next stars in “Schmigadoon!,” premiering globally July 16 on Apple TV+. Olivia Rodrigo will make her “SNL” musical guest debut. Her debut album, “SOUR,” featuring the record-breaking global hit single “drivers license,” is due out May 21.”

See you Sunday.

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