At Screener, we watch a lot of television on a lot of devices — here are our picks for this month’s TV-related streaming offerings, and some last-chance ideas for stuff leaving streaming over the course of the next few weeks.
April 1: If you’ve never seen “Wynonna Earp” on the Syfy network, check out Season 1 of this hidden gem. Scrappy, low-budge, explicitly feminist “nasty woman” comedy-action-horror, with some killer leads and great chemistry. Imagine the characters from “Wonderfalls” in a “Buffy” atmosphere, throw in some real talk about growing up unlikeable and female, some seriously charismatic actors, and just the slightest dusting of sweet Canadian politeness on top. Addictive — if a bit writerly for some.
April 4: The first Louis C.K. content in what seems like ages drops, and even better: It’s a standup special.
Plus, the second season of the jittery, charming, horrifically relatable, stunning and personable Brit import “Chewing Gum” starring creator/writer Michaela Coel — and costarring Screener favorite Susan “Crazyhead” Wokoma, of course.
April 7: The second half of Baz Luhrmann’s kinetic “Get Down” premieres, as well as two notable Originals/acquisitions:
- “El Faro de las Orcas (Lighthouse of the Whales)” is that classic, subtitled tale: Incredibly hot girl meets incredibly hot guy, there is an adorable kid with special needs, and a bunch of whales are also involved. A tale as old as time — but not as old as some marine life! Did you know the bowhead whale can live past 200 years of age? Imagine all the relatively uneventful things you might see in that time, in your vast world far beneath the waves.
- The other movie is called “Win It All,” a collaboration between all-time greatest human Joe “Easy” Swanberg and “New Girl’s” Jake Johnson — the team that brought you “Digging for Fire” after “Drinking Buddies” was such a hit. And in breaking news, we’re just now hearing that Swanberg’s incredible child Jude — the breakout star of “Happy Christmas” — will also appear.
April 10: The second season of IFC’s Fred Armisen parody anthology, “Documentary Now!” Highlights include Bill Hader’s terrifying campaign strategist in “The Bunker,” everything about “Juan Likes Rice & Chicken,” and a great many parts of “Parker Gail’s Location Is Everything,” written by John Mulaney & Bill Hader.
April 11: “Kevin Hart: What Now?” is either asking the question What happens next? or making the exclamation I am exasperated by this latest calamity!, depending on how you read it aloud. Which way does Kevin mean it? You’ll have to watch to find out. Maybe both. He is a tricky guy.
April 12: “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” Season 2 comes up for streaming (the season finale airs April 4.)
April 14: Here is some information. Perhaps you will be ambivalent, perhaps you will fall hard on one side or the other of valence. Here at Screener we do not judge, only love, and when we cannot love, we present you with information.
- A revamped “Chelsea” begins airing weekly, rather than whatever the insane schedule was before. We were shocked by how delightful “Chelsea Does” turned out to be, and hope this will swing the talkshow that way.
- “Sandy Wexler” is an Adam Sandler (?) movie (?!?) about a talent agent in the 1990s who falls in love with client Jennifer Hudson, and over the next decade they play out a quote “star-crossed love story” that sounds a whole lot more like a “star-crossed civil suit and possible jailtime” story to us.
- And finally, the ubiquitous Patton Oswalt and omnipresent Felicia Day are involved, as inevitably as anything ever written in the book of destiny, in “Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return.”
Usually a picture is worth exactly one thousand words, but occasionally they can be worth mystery science three thousand words. So here is a photograph of what that will be like:
…So if that seems fun to you, good news! It begins on Netflix April 14, with “The Meltdown’s” Jonah Ray in the hotseat.
April 15: “Slam,” based on the book by Nick Hornby, is like any other property based on a book by Nick Hornby, only in this case the tormented white male is a teen skateboarder and the parental switcheroo is teen pregnancy. And, yes, like any other Nick Hornby book or movie, it will be amazing.
April 18: “The Lucas Brothers: On Drugs” is a standup comedy act by the very charming, deadpan Lucas twins — you know them, you’ve seen them in stuff; they were in “Lady Dynamite” — and thus delightful.
April 21: Fernando Coimbra’s “Sand Castle” is a war story pitting many hunks (Nicholas Hoult, Henry Cavill, Logan Marshall-Green, Tommy Flanagan, Glen Powell, Beau Knapp, Neil Brown Jr.) against one Iraq. Joined by the Adam Leon acquisition “Tramps,” which features Mike Birbiglia as a smalltime crook, which is the cuteness equivalent of being mugged by a corgi, and therefore we are in.
In the first season of “Bill Nye Saves the World,” Bill gets to hang out with (slash try to save?) former Taylor Swift bestie — and current satellite member of the proud, untarnished, dignified Trump/Kushner/Bannon dynasty — Karlie Kloss. Save the former #squadleader, save the world, as they say.
Two new series we’re very excited about here at Screener also debut their full seasons: “Girlboss,” a business comedy with Britt Robertson and Johnny Simmons, feels like something tremendously new, while the just terribly titled “Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On” is the Rashida Jones-produced series followup to the similarly titled documentary, which began as a study of young men’s relationship to pornography in the internet age before shifting to the much more interesting personalities of the young female performers, instead.
…Perhaps that is why it is called that terrible name, actually? So that a stoned teenage boy might one lonesome night see that title on the old Recommended For You, think “That seems like something I would really thoroughly enjoy — thanks, Netflix” and then find himself thick in the middle of not the carnal delights he was expecting, but a real think. Netflix, you wily honey trap, you minx, you St. Bernard bounding up and down the chilly slopes of exploitation, barrel of hot cocoa around its neck, looking for strays.
April 22: Along much the same lines, Netflix begins streaming three seasons of “The Great British Baking Show: Masterclass.” In the UK, and among the real fans, the show is of course called “The Great British Bake-Off” — but do you know why? It’s because in America, Pillsbury owns the word “Bake-off.” Perhaps now that we’re losing both the NEA and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS can fix two birds with one stone?
- April 25: Subversive, charming Vir Das becomes the first Indian comic to debut a Netflix Special: “Abroad Understanding” cuts between New York and New Delhi.
- April 27: The first eight of sixteen episodes in Netflix’s first Spanish venture, “Las Chicas del Cable (Cable Girls),” tells the sprawling story of four switchboard operators in 1920s Spain. The last days of the dictatorial Spanish Restoration, leading into the Second Spanish Republic, are remembered for their election fraud, governmental and financial-sector corruption, single-party government and eventual bankruptcy. Enjoy this romantic escape to a far-off time and place, so unlike our own.
- April 28: “Small Crimes” arrives, directed by Evan Katz, whose “Cheap Thrills” was a SXSW hit in 2013 and, if you can get through it, a beautiful film. Starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau from “Game of Thrones” and Molly Parker and Gary Cole from … just about everything, but most recently “House of Cards” and “Veep” respectively.
And, of course: Justin Simien’s “Dear White People” was one of the most justly lauded films to come out in 2014. The buzz was real — everything from the storytelling, to the performances, to the brilliant intentions behind the story and characters were incredible. We’re beyond excited to watch the series version, debuting April 28.
In less happy news: April 1 we lose what appears to be the entire Joss Whedon catalog — “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” “Firefly” and at least Season 1 of “Dollhouse,” as well as: “The X-Files” and “Roswell,” its UPN-twist stepdaughter; “House” and its descendants “Lie to Me” and at least the first four seasons of “Bones”; five seasons of “Ally McBeal”; and in slightly more niche news: “Better Off Ted” and “The Riches,” both of which are highly bingeworthy if you ever get the chance again. By April 10 we’ll have lost both seasons of “Legit” and at least Season 4 of “Wilfred.” (And no, you wouldn’t go wrong thinking Hey, that’s an awful lot of FOX-related properties in one paragraph: The Netflix/FOX fight has been exceptionally upsetting and brutal all year.)
BONUS: Just so you know, May brings us new seasons of “Sense8,” “Master of None,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” and “House of Cards,” as well as the “Green Gables” adaptation we’re all just crossing our fingers won’t drive us insane with rage, “Anne.” And BONUS BONUS, June is double-Jenji Kohan time, with “Orange Is the New Black” and lady-wrestler period piece “G.L.O.W.” making their debut.
April 7: “American Playboy,” Season 1, explores the life and legacy of Hugh Hefner, known to history as Patient Zero of male fragility, its inventor and purveyor, and its shock-doctrine toxic profiteer. Enjoy.
Other originals and imports: “Fortitude” Season 2 and the Beeb’s very unpleasant one-season “Thirteen” (4/14), “Bosch” Season 3 (4/21), and the lovable and ambitious US/UK romance “Catastrophe,” Season 3 (4/28).
Streaming rights: Third seasons of “Better Call Saul” & “Fargo” start 4/11 and 4/20; April 27 brings us the underrated and blazingly important feature “American Honey,” and TNT’s wildly intense crime-family drama “Animal Kingdom,” Season 1, drops 4/30.
- IN: “Veep” (Season 6) and “The Leftovers” (third and final season) premiere April 16; the following week, Season 4 of “Silicon Valley.”
- OUT: Series finales for “Big Little Lies” (4/2) and “Girls” (4/16); Season 1 finale for “Crashing” (4/9)
OTHER: Season 3 of the Brazilian detective/therapist drama “Psi” (4/14); “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie” (4/1), “Abortion: Stories Women Tell” (4/3) and Oprah’s highly anticipated collab with Alan Ball, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” (4/22).
April 6 debuts the second season of “Dark Net,” which we like — but maybe not as much as Viceland’s “Cyberwar” — and April 9 is “Homeland’s” sixth season finale, with two more already ordered. We possibly say this very year, but this year we mean it: A network show that changed itself this much, this far into its run, would be described as “revamped” or “rebooted,” and we mean that in the best way.
But the event we’re most excited about is Oscar winner John Ridley’s 6-episode limited series “Guerilla,” which streams April 16. Liberating a political prisoner (Idris Elba) leads to the establishment of a radical cell by a married couple of freedom fighters (Babou Ceesay and the incredible Freida Pinto) in highly volatile 1970s London.
The stylish love-and-terrorism story, if you could even call it that, also features “Penny Dreadful’s” Rory Kinnear, Patrick Gibson (amazing as “The OA’s” Eminem-in-training Steve Winchell), Zawe Ashton, Wunmi Mosaku and Denise Gough, among a bunch of other stellar talent — as expected, from the man commonly regarded as the person who broke out Lupita Nyong’o.
Note: Hulu Original “Harlots” made its weekly debut this week, while Disney XD dropped all of Season 2 of “Star vs the Forces of Evil” — we love the former, have only heard good things about the latter, and under no circumstances should you confuse the two.
April 2: Michael Showalter’s “Hello, My Name Is Doris,” cowritten with Laura Terruso, stars Sally Field as a desirous mature lady who falls in love — as literally anyone would — with Max “Schmidt” Greenfield. Wendi McLendon-Covey, Stephen Root, Elizabeth Reaser, Natasha Lyonne and Tyne Daly also star.
April 4: “Dimension 404,” a 6-episode science fiction anthology narrated by Mark Hamill and starring Lea Michele and “iZombie’s” wonderful Robert Buckley, in the first installment, along with… Joel McHale, Matt Jones (Badger on “Breaking Bad,” Anna Faris’ ex-husband on “Mom”), brilliant character actress Sarah Hyland (Haley on “Modern Family,” gamechanger Natalie Dashkov in “Vampire Academy”), Ashley Rickards (the lead on MTV’s “Awkward”), Megan Mullally, “Fresh Off the Boat” queen of the universe Constance Wu…
At first glance this may look like “Dan Harmon’s
Coke Black Mirror,” but that could well just be the ubiquitous Patton Oswalt throwing us off again. Between the “Polybius” references and the possibilities inherent in the idea of putting an American spin on “Black Mirror’s” arch and acidic near-future masterpieces, we have more than an open mind about this one. It is a solid idea, we still miss 2007’s “Masters of Science Fiction” — and frankly, any attempt to write thought-provoking SF in good faith, at this point, deserves to be rewarded.
April 5: The first seasons of “Preacher” and “Top of the Lake,” both of which return this year; and Season 2 of “Wayward Pines,” which is rumored, but not officially, canceled. And several big shows will be doing the Hulu shuffle this upcoming season, after air:
- April 18: “Famous in Love” from the creator of “Pretty Little Liars” begins streaming; Season 2 of “12 Monkeys” and Season 1 of kid-superhero anime “My Hero Academia” arrive online.
- April 19: “Pretty Little Liars” and “Prison Break” will both be available weekly from here on out, to say nothing of the fact that “The Even Stevens Movie” (2003) comes to Hulu this same precious day.
May 23: Season 3 of “Casual” — which is obviously very exciting, Michaela Watkins is a gem among the many gems of that show, but we’re telling you out of chronological order so that we can end on…
April 26: “The Handmaid’s Tale.” The first three episodes drop, they are each incredible, they expand the first-person narrative of the novel in unbelievably insightful and plugged-in ways, and the triptych ends in one of the most stunning, evocative sequences we’ve ever seen on television. It’s a painful scene, but just as moving is the beauty and majesty of what the show, at that point, signals it’s going to be doing.
As much as we can talk without even kidding about how timely the tale is — probably the most it’s been since Margaret Atwood published the damn thing in 1985 — the artistry and intelligence and care that goes into every moment and detail of this program, the creativity and brightness behind the storytelling, and the wisdom of its patient, wry pace…
You will hear a lot of buzz and probably some kind of more-progressive-than-thou backlash, and eventually we will culturally move past this, but pay none of it any mind: This is rock-solid, powerful, all-cylinders storytelling; the best that the television medium can do.
And if the root complaint is that it has an urgent message… Name us a worthwhile story that doesn’t — and then maybe take a swing at explaining why that should ever be a problem. Either way, we are in for such a treat.
Join us next month for more picks, recommendations and surprises, only from Screener.