Friday, 02 December 2022

From post-apocalypse to cooking with a comedian on cable TV

The summer television press tour has come to an end and there are plenty of options on cable networks for new shows this fall. Some programs will be very topical.

Take, for instance, the post-apocalyptic saga spanning multiple timelines of “Station Eleven” on HBO Max. This limited drama series tells the stories of survivors of a devastating flu as they attempt to rebuild and re-imagine the world anew.

Based on the bestseller by Emily St. John Mandel, “Station Eleven” feels like a prescient cautionary tale of COVID-19, even though the book was published in 2014 and the first episodes were shot in early 2020 just before the pandemic hit.

During the press tour, executive producer Jessica Rhoades may have been wishful in saying this show “speaks to what, hopefully, the audience is excited to watch and see next.” That may be true if joy is to be experienced coming out on the other side for the survivors.

Since the passing of Hugh Hefner and lifestyle changes in the sexual revolution, the Playboy empire is not what it used to be. Now along comes the A&E network with the 10-part series “Secrets of Playboy.”

Yes, it sounds like an expose, and during the press tour a network executive noted that the Playboy brand was “a beacon of progress for some, but also a gateway to a much darker world,” and a “toxic environment that became an unchecked playground for nefarious conduct.”

Interesting stories are certain to be told from former playmates. Sondra Theodore was only 19 when she became Hefner’s girlfriend, then about three decades his junior. During the time of her relationship with the publisher, Sondra became Playmate of the Month in July 1977.

Another participant in the program is Miss January 1973, Mike Garcia, who later became the director of Playmate Promotions. In the past, Miki testified to sordid details of the Playboy empire that may surface in the series.

During the press conference, Miki claimed that while traveling on a promotion, “something terrible happened to me, and you’ll see it in the documentary.” Mike tried to monitor the women, but stated that she “couldn’t really protect them from Hugh Hefner.”

With a premiere date uncertain but a series that should come out near Halloween, AMC’s “Rag doll” is a modern-day Faustian thriller based on the novel by Daniel Cole about six people that have been murdered, dismembered and sewn into the shape of one grotesque body.

Assigned to the case are London detective Nathan Wolf (Henry Lloyd-Hughes and his best friend and boss Emily Baxter (Thalissa Teixeira), joined by the unit’s new recruit Lake Edmunds (Lucy Hale).

The “Rag Doll Killer” taunts the police by sending them a list of his next victims, with Wolf’s name among them. And with those victims to protect, the police heroes soon come under intense scrutiny.

The new AMC+ original series “Kin” is about a close-knit Dublin clan that must face the consequences of their choices. It’s more a Shakespearean drama than a gangland crime story.

To be sure, this fictional Irish family is embroiled in a gangland war, and executive Dan McDermott boldly claimed that this “series will engage and resonate with viewers, especially those who love ‘Gangs of London,” which remains one the top titles on AMC+.”

While we are on the topic of crime, the History Channel’s nonfiction series “Great Escapes with Morgan Freeman” will focus on the most daring convict escapes from some of the most notorious prisons in the world.

Freeman, who famously starred as a wise inmate in “The Shawshank Redemption,” hosts the dramatic re-enactments of escapes from infamous prisons like Alcatraz, with dynamic storytelling and cutting-edge visual effects.

During the press tour, answering a question about whether “Shawshank” resonated with him during the program, Freeman said he doesn’t “have much trouble separating fact, reality, from movies, things like that.”

For a change of pace, Lifetime will launch the movie series “Highway to Heaven,” which follows Angela (Jill Scott), an angel sent back to Earth by God to help others in need.

In the premiere movie, Angela assumes the role of a temporary school counselor and finds herself working alongside principal Bruce (Barry Watson) as she intervenes in the lives of a troubled student Cody (Ben Daon) and his father Jeff (Robert Moloney) after a death in the family.

Have you ever seen comedian Sebastian Maniscalco perform one of his stand-up routines on a streaming service? This guy has a hilarious take on everyday life, pop culture and the Italian American ethos. His facial expressions and body language are brilliantly funny.

Maybe it’s a stereotype that Italians love food, but that would explain the new Discovery+ series “Well Done with Sebastian Maniscalco,” which is about the comedian’s obsession with food, but don’t dare call him a “foodie.”

Sebastian takes a deep dive into the gastronomic world from every angle, blending his curiosity and humor into the mix of a cooking show. His signature social observations and commentary lift “Well Done” into a rarefied space.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

Upcoming Calendar

12.02.2022 5:30 pm - 10:00 pm
Christmas in the Country
12.03.2022 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
12.03.2022 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Weekly writing workshop
12.06.2022 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Rotary Club of Clear Lake
12.08.2022 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
12.08.2022 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Adult Literacy Program in-person tutor training
12.09.2022 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Hometown Christmas in Lower Lake
12.10.2022 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
12.10.2022 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Ladies of the Lake Quilt Guild
12.10.2022 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Weekly writing workshop

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