TV June 24-26: Making It, Innocent, Veneno, When Nature Calls with Helen Mirren, Ray, Wolfgang, Sex/Life, Bosch, The Ice Road, Mary J. Blige, The Mysterious Benedict Society, Fathom, The Witches, September Mornings, Central Park, The Naked Director

Happy Fete Saint-Jean to my Quebec friends. Here’s some celebratory new TV.

Thursday June 24

Making It (Season 3 premiere 7pmCT/8ET CTV NBC) “Nick and Amy get to know a new batch of makers; first in the faster craft, the makers make a toy that represents their personality and who they are; then in the master craft, they create a family portrait that shows off their birth or chosen family.”

Innocent (Season 2 premiere Sundance Now) Former teacher Sally Wright (Katherine Kelly, Liar, Cheat) is freed from prison on appeal having served 5 years for the murder of one of her students. A new police investigation begins to uncover some uncomfortable truths.

Veneno (Spanish series premiere Crave app) “is based on the real-life story of 90s Trans icon La Veneno. The series follows Valeria (Lola Rodríguez), a young journalism student who meets and instantly bonds with her idol, Cristina “La Veneno” Ortiz Rodríguez (Jedet, Daniela Santiago, and Isabel Torres). The two women were born in very different times, but their stories become intertwined when Valeria writes a book about La Veneno. As she begins to write Cristina’s memoir, Valeria is plunged into a winding story full of victory and tragedy; friendship and heartbreak; loyalty and abuse; fame and freefall; but always defined by courage and self-love. VENENO weaves between Cristina’s past and present to paint a portrait of a complex woman who, in daring to break boundaries and refusing to dim her own light, paved the way for so many others to shine.”

The Good Fight (program note) Season 5 is coming to Canada but not until July 1 on W Network. It is, however, premiering today on the Paramount+ streaming app in the U.S. only. Waaaah but OK it’s coming.

When Nature Calls with Helen Mirren (series premiere 7pmCT/8ET Global ABC) “is a laugh-out-loud, one-hour unscripted comedy series that looks at the lighter side of the natural world. Based on a BBC Studios comedy format, the series features comedians putting words into the mouths of beautiful beasts, teeny-tiny frogs, beatboxing badgers and more in captivating footage from all over the world.”

Friday June 25

Wolfgang (documentary premieres Disney+) Chef Wolfgang Puck is well known for his celebrity connections, Academy Awards menus and famous restaurants, including the iconic Spago. But this new documentary puts them in the context of a difficult childhood, Puck’s prove-them-wrong resolve and the price paid even in success. I love origin stories, but I am especially looking forward to this because the director is David Gelb, who has made me weep and laugh and crave with his food docs Chef’s Table, Street Food and Jiro Dreams of Sushi. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDlGkFoj1TY

Sex/Life (series premieres Netflix) Even as it eases, if this year-and-a-half of COVID confinement has frayed your relationship, maybe give this a pass? Exhausted wife and stay-at-home mom Billie (Sarah Shahi, The Rookie, City on a Hill, Chicago Fire) starts journaling about her wild-child days and especially her ex, aka The One Who Got Away. Then her husband finds the journal. The trailer has a very soapy feel to it. Not that kind of soapy, you scamp! Then again…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x580mowu5Gs

Bosch (the seventh and final season premieres Amazon Prime Video) “This isn’t over,” our beloved hero Det. Harry Bosch says in the trailer. Half true. It is the end for this adaptation of Michael Connelly’s best-selling crime novels. But the wonderfully flinty series star Titus Welliver will reprise the role of Bosch in a new series about his post-police-force crime-solving career. But before you start pining for that, get ready for this last season of Bosch, based on the novel Burning Room about an arson and the death of a child. Our man is once again taking a furious run at how far he can go to get justice without falling irretrievably over the edge. Although if he’s no longer a cop in his next TV-series life, maybe we can guess how far? (Not a spoiler; just guessing.)

Mary J. Blige: My Life (doc premiere Amazon Prime Video) “Nine-time Grammy®-winning recording artist and Academy Award nominated singer and actress Mary J. Blige set the music world on fire with her trailblazing 1994 LP “My Life,” a collection of powerful confessionals about her battles with abuse, depression and addiction that forged a profound and enduring connection with millions of fans around the globe. In Oscar®-winning filmmaker Vanessa Roth’s documentary Mary J. Blige’s My Life, the singer, producer and actress reveals the demons and blessings that inspired the record and propelled her from the soul-crushing world of New York’s housing projects to international stardom. In the process, she celebrates the 25th anniversary of her most influential work by performing the album live for the first time.”

Ray (series premiere Netflix) “A revolutionary film maker, an auteur, and the creator of the iconic Feluda series, Satyajit Ray is also celebrated for writing some of the best short stories India has ever seen. Vastly varying in genre and style, these stories are full of thrills, twists and turns with a strong emotional core keeping you completely hooked till the end. For the first time ever we present four such passionately curated stories under Ray.”

The Mysterious Benedict Society (Disney+) “Placed undercover at a boarding school known as The Institute, a group of orphans must foil a nefarious plot with global ramifications while creating a new sort of family along the way. Based on the bestseller by Trenton Lee Stewart which Time Magazine called “one of the best young adult books of all time,” The Mysterious Benedict Society” stars Emmy® Award winner Tony Hale in the titular role and features a standout ensemble of young actors.

Fathom (documentary premiere Apple TV+) “Directed and photographed by Drew Xanthopoulos (“The Sensitives”), “Fathom” follows Dr. Ellen Garland and Dr. Michelle Fournet, two scientists focused on the study of humpback whale songs and social communication. As they embark on parallel research journeys on opposite sides of the world, they seek to better understand whale culture and communication. The documentary film uniquely reveals a deep commitment and reverence to the scientific pxrocess and the universal human need to seek answers about the world around us. From hypothesis to groundbreaking experiences in the field, “Fathom” showcases the passion, curiosity, collaboration, perseverance and work it takes for leading scientists to make scientific discoveries. ”

UPDATED: The Ice Road (movie premiere for rent $9.99 Apple TV+, Google Play, and VOD $19.99) Bah! The Winnipeg-set-and-shot movie was set to premiere on Netflix on this day, but it is not there today, but rather for rent VOD, as forecast a couple of days ago by my good friend at the Winnipeg Free Press Randall King. It’s a Liam Neeson thriller about getting lifesaving parts to workers stranded in a northern mine in the depths of a freezing winter. I hate the current whiplash and lashing movie release cycle these days like nothing I’ve hated in a long time. I hated that the other hotly anticipated Winnipeg-shot movie Nobody, starring Bob Odenkirk, was VOD for $24.99 when it premiered in March. At least Nobody has now dropped to $6.99 some three months later. But seriously. I used to happily pay, often on opening weekend (and sometimes not even cadging the seniors discount!) to see three or four movies a week in cinemas, as well as pay to subscribe to Netflix, Amazon and a ridiculous number of other streaming apps. I did it happily. Then Cineplex said — a year ago but even so — they were opening but NOT requiring mask wearing. Good will faded. And now the widespread gouging — $24.99 to see In the Heights? $34.99 for Cruella ON TOP OF the Disney + subscription (until Aug. 27 when it will be included in the subscription price)? Feck you guys. Sure I’ll return to cinemas but not for a long while. And you cinemas and streamers now gouging me above and beyond the monthly subscription fees? Not cool. Your lo$$. I’m getting used to patience. But where was I. Oh yeah. Here’s even more new TV. Phew. Thanks, I needed that.

The Witches (movie premiere Crave app) “Starring a powerhouse cast including Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci, Kristin Chenoweth, and Chris Rock, Robert Zemeckis’ visually innovative film, … the story tells the darkly humorous and heartwarming tale of a young orphaned boy who in late 1967, goes to live with his loving Grandma in rural Alabama. As the boy and his grandmother encounter some deceptively glamorous but diabolical witches, she wisely whisks him away to a seaside resort. Regrettably, they arrive at precisely the same time that the world’s Grand High Witch has gathered her fellow cronies from around the globe – undercover – to carry out her nefarious plans.”

September Mornings (series premiere Amazon Prime Video) “Follows trans-woman, Cassandra (Liniker Barros) as she begins fulfilling her dream of being a cover artist of Vanusa, a famous Brazilian singer from the 70s. However, her life takes an unexpected turn when her ex, Leide (Karine Teles), shows up with Gersinho (Gustavo Coelho) and claims he is Cassandra’s son.”

Central Park (Season 2 premiere Apple TV+) “The Tillerman family continues to navigate living in and caring for the world’s most famous park. Molly experiences the trials and tribulations of adolescence, Cole is challenged by a truly embarrassing moment at school, Paige continues to chase down the mayor’s corruption story, and Owen juggles managing the park, his staff and his family all with a smile on his face. Meanwhile, Bitsy inches ever closer to her sinister goal of claiming Central Park as her own; with Helen by her side, eternally wondering whether she’s made it into Bitsy’s will. Every step of the way, we are guided along by our friendly, fumbling, fiddler narrator, Birdie.” Season 3, fyi, has been confirmed.

The Naked Director (Season 2 premiere Netflix) “As the new Japanese Heisei era began in 1989, Muranishi (Takayuki Yamada) stood at the summit of the adult video world, putting out a large number of videos in his themed series. However, none of them reached the legendary status of “I Like It S&M Style,” the masterpiece he produced with Kuroki (Misato Morita). Kuroki yearns to produce another work with Muranishi, but this desire is left unfulfilled as a gap slowly forms between them. During this time, Muranishi is urged to expand into satellite broadcasting. Moving toward his grand dream of “raining porn from the sky,” Muranishi gathers more capital. Seeing this, Kawada (Tetsuji Tamayama) questions Muranishi’s decisions. However, Muranishi ignores the opinions of his close ally Kawada and breaks from him in order to launch a new company, Diamond Visual, where he begins to promote new actresses, including Mariko Nogi (Yuri Tsunematsu). Meanwhile, his former partner Toshi (Shinnosuke Mitsushima), who has become a yakuza under Furuya (Jun Kunimura), holds complicated feelings toward Muranishi.”

Saturday June 26

Sand Dollar Cove (Hallmark Summer Nights movie series 8pmCT/9ET on W Network) I can’t be the only one watching these treacly moony eyed romantic confections. Can I? Hello?

See you Sunday.

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