TV Roundup: Red-hot returning series, Glover's 'Guava Island'
With more shows on television than any other point in history, it can be hard to decipher the good from the bad. An ever-growing number of streaming platforms featuring premium shows, when combined with cable networks, makes for a crowded TV schedule. To help catch up, here’s a breakdown of some notable new shows and returns for the binger in us all.
“Game of Thrones"
The colossus fantasy hit finally returned last Sunday after a two-year hiatus. With a truncated six-episode final season, Thrones fans — or as I say "Gones" fans — are eager for a satisfying finale. Last week’s premiere featured plenty of reunions and set the plot in motion. The Starks and Targayrens are prepping for the impending doom that is the White Walker invasion. Cersei Lannister is waiting in King's Landing, thinking the threat of a deadly zombie attack is of minimal concern. The episode, while weak, is pretty much par for all “Game of Thrones” premieres: setting up for a bloody affair.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s spy thriller returned for its second season a couple weeks ago, and rest assured it's still as amazing as the first. “Killing Eve” follows a British detective, Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), as she tracks down a murderous assassin, Villanelle (Jodie Comer). The premiere begins seconds after the final moments of the finale, in which Eve stabs Villanelle. The drama is driven by Eve and Villanelle’s sexual attraction to one another. It's a cat-mouse hunt that's a must for all watch lists.
Sticking with the killer theme, “Barry” returned last week. The multiple-Emmy Award winning show, co-created by and starring Bill Hader, is a tale of breaking good. Barry is a veteran-turned-hitman who desperately wants to get out of the business. To do so, he moves to Los Angeles, California and joins an acting class. He realizes that leaving the assassin life is harder than it appears after he gets entangled in a botched murder for the Russian mob. Now none of that sounds funny. But “Barry” is flat-out hilarious with winning performances by Hader and Henry Winkler as Barry’s acting coach. Make sure to stay tuned this season.
Perhaps the most consistently perfect comedy in cable television history, “Veep” also returned last week. After an extended hiatus due to Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s cancer diagnosis, Selina Meyer (Louis-Dreyfus) is back on the campaign trail. Alongside her as always is the large ensemble cast that makes “Veep” the best political show. Tony Hale, Reid Scott, Gary Cole, Anna Chlumsky, Matt Walsh, Kevin Dunn and Sam Richardson each elevate every line of vulgar dialogue thrown at them. The characters have all eased into their roles over the seven seasons, but somehow resisted staleness. I’ll miss this show, honestly even more than “Game of Thrones.” It deftly captures our political climate and always gives me at least one belly laugh per episode.
Donald Glover’s musical persona, Childish Gambino, is for some reason, well-liked now? “Atlanta,” Glover’s terrific FX show, brought new ears to his tunes following the release of the P-Funk album “Awaken, My Love!” Last summer’s “This is America” video earned him Grammy praise and a hefty amount of clicks. “Guava Island” is directed by Hiro Murai of “Atlanta” and the aforementioned video. It stars Glover and Rihanna as lovers. Glover’s character, Deni, is a musician organizing a festival. Rihanna really is just there to hang out. The evil manufacturing giant, Red, wants to shut down Deni’s performance. An overall enjoyable film, it seems like a minor work made to just kick out the moth balls rather than put forth any meaningful statement.