So many big shows are returning over the next seven days, you could probably spend the whole week in front of the TV. Fortunately, On the Beat is here to cherry-pick some definite pop culture highlights for you.
1. WHAT TO WATCH TO FIND OUT IF THE OLD SPARK’S STILL ALIVE
Last September, original Will & Grace cast members Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Sean Hayes, and Megan Mullally reunited for a 10-minute election special encouraging Americans to “vote, honey!” It proved so popular (7.5m YouTube views and counting) that NBC ordered this revival season premiering Thursday night. Will the once-progressive sitcom about a quartet of quick-witted New Yorkers still feel fresh in 2017? Only time will tell, but the fact NBC has increased the episode order from 10 to 16 — and ordered a second revival season for 2018-19 — is definitely encouraging.
2. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU SOMETIMES FEEL AS THOUGH THE WORLD IS AGAINST YOU
After a six-year hiatus, Larry David‘s super-influential meta-sitcom returns for its ninth season this Sunday on HBO. The world has changed a lot since 2011, but it’s still throwing up problems for David’s character, a prickly and socially stilted fictionalized version of himself. One trailer shows him telling a woman off for crying at a funeral, and being physically thrown off a bus by the driver he’s enraged. To borrow a phrase from David, let’s hope this clever and consistently inventive show remains “prett-ay, prett-ay, prett-ay, pretty good.”
3. WHAT TO LISTEN TO WHEN YOU’RE CRAVING SOME DIFFERENT SOUNDS
Ibeyi is a pretty unique musical duo: French-Cuban twin sisters Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz sing in English, French, and Yoruba, a West African language spoken by their ancestors, and make beguiling music that blends electronica, hip-hop, jazz, and traditional Afro-Cuban sounds. Dropping Friday, their second album feels both intimate and political: powerful standout track “Deathless” deals with the emotions Lisa-Kaindé felt after being wrongfully arrested at the age of 16. The other 11 tracks are vital, too: this is a rich, emotionally resonant album that almost seems to seep into your skin as you play it.
4. WHAT TO PUT ON WHEN YOU’RE IN THE MOOD FOR A (VERY) GROWN UP DRAMA
This British miniseries features another devastating performance from Joanne Froggatt, who won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of lady’s maid Anna Bates in Downton Abbey. Here, she plays an elementary school teacher who goes on a date with a seemingly eligible surgeon (Ioan Gruffudd) whose son attends her school. The next day, she wakes up convinced she has been raped, something he strenuously denies. Beginning Wednesday on SundanceTV, who co-produced the six-parter with U.K. network ITV, Liar is surprising, tightly-plotted, and supremely gripping stuff.
5. WHAT TO LISTEN TO IF YOU’RE A SUCKER FOR A COMEBACK STORY
Since she released her last album 15 years ago, Shania Twain has battled Lyme disease, a debilitating condition which caused the Canadian country star to (temporarily) lose her singing voice. She’s also divorced her husband and former musical collaborator, Mutt Lange. So it’s no surprise that this 12-track collection dropping Friday feels a little more melancholy and reflective than previous Shania albums. But it’s super-melodic and charming, too, and highlights like “We Got Something They Don’t” and “Swingin’ with My Eyes Closed” supply some classic Shania spunk.
6. WHAT TO TRY IF YOU APPRECIATE COMEDY WITH AN INTERNATIONAL EDGE
Premiering Wednesday on SundanceTV, this Australian comedy series is a low-key treat. Created by and starring real-life best friends Celia Pacquola and Luke McGregor, it follows a thirtysomething man (McGregor) who returns to his tiny hometown to help his domineering mother run her real estate business. Soon after moving back, he’s unexpectedly joined by his best friend (Pacquola) who’s fled her terrible honeymoon. The premise may not sound dazzlingly original, but Rosehaven works because it captures (and affectionately sends up) the quirks of small town life beautifully. It’s warm, well-observed, and very funny.
7. WHAT TO BINGE-WATCH IF YOU LIKE TV SHOWS THAT KEEP YOU GUESSING
Created by Rowan Joffé (28 Weeks Later, Brighton Rock), this British crime drama series centers on a tough London detective (Tim Roth) who relocates to the Canadian Rockies to become a small-town police chief. As his family struggle to adjust to their new home, he’s forced to contend with a crime wave caused by the arrival of a large oil company with a shadowy VP (Christina Hendricks). Launching Friday on Amazon, this is a tense, stylish, and twist-filled series featuring some very shrewd, multi-layered performances.
8. WHAT TO CHECK OUT ON YOUTUBE TO BRIGHTEN UP YOUR LUNCH BREAK
Icelandic pop alchemist Björk is known for making inventive music videos, and this stunning new promo clip is no exception. Her visual collaborator Andrew Thomas Huang says the dazzling kaleidoscopic imagery offers “the first glimpse” into the “utopia” of the singer’s upcoming LP, which Björk has described as her “Tinder album” because it’s about “rediscovering love.” “The Gate” definitely makes a strong first impression: it took 870 human hours just to create the custom-made Gucci gown that Björk wears here. Then again, she’s never been an artist to make do with half measures.
9. WHAT TO DIP INTO IF YOU CAN STILL REMEMBER YOUR OWN TEENAGE ANGST
Netflix is already home to one hit animated sitcom: BoJack Horseman, whose fourth season debuted earlier this month. On Friday, the streaming giant launches what should become an another. Co-created by Kroll Show‘s Nick Kroll and former Family Guy writer Andrew Goldberg, Big Mouth is a rude, crude, and very relatable exploration of teenage life based on Kroll and Goldberg’s own adolescent experiences. The voice cast includes Jordan Peele, Jenny Slate and Fred Armisen, but Maya Rudolph probably has the most fun playing a character called the Hormone Monstress.
10. AND FINALLY, WHAT TO STREAM WHEN YOU FANCY SOMETHING A LITTLE GENTLER
Premiering Friday on Netflix, this charming comedy-drama film reunites two screen legends, Jane Fonda and Robert Redford, nearly 40 years after they last starred together. Adapted from a novel by revered writer Kent Haruf, it follows a later-in-life romance that blossoms between two widowed neighbors after they begin sharing a bed platonically to relieve their loneliness. Our Souls at Night isn’t the most daring movie you’ll see this fall, but it’s an elegant and poignant vehicle for two actors with an infectious natural chemistry.
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