Adding both cachet and pressure, “Clarice” (Thursdays, CBS) has the weight of “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991) behind it as it chronicles Special Agent Starling’s 10-year period between the movie versions of “Lambs” and “Hannibal” (2001). If you watch the first episode, “The Silence is Over,” with a checklist in hand, it checks all the boxes, proving that creators Alex Kurtzman (recent “Star Trek” projects) and Jenny Lumet know those films and author Thomas Harris’ source material.
Igave decent marks to the previous seasons (which this series calls “parts”) of “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” but in retrospect it was because I imagined its future upside. But now that the run is complete with the eight-episode Part 4 (December, Netflix), it’s clear that “Sabrina” doesn’t reach that upside. It’s always visually impressive – a simple Google Image search demonstrates that this looks like a good show – and Kiernan Shipka nails the self-centered-yet-likable lead character, but the scripts are never on par.
2021 will be a hugely transitional year for television and cinema as they react to our new post-pandemic habits. It could also be hugely entertaining year for audiences, as we get all those delayed 2020 releases plus some new ones. Here are my picks for three TV shows and three movies to see this year, plus a rundown of other big series and films:
Like everything else, TV took a hit in this year of the pandemic, but networks felt the impact more so than streaming and premium. The latter categories put out several good short-form series or seasons, accelerating what had been a gradual shift to that format and making a tough year bearable. These were my 10 favorite TV series of 2020:
With “The Haunting of Bly Manor” (Netflix) – his spiritual (pun intended) sequel to 2018’s “The Haunting of Hill House” — Mike Flanagan continues to solidify his status as a horror auteur tapped into the tragic beauty afforded by the genre. A damp, dark-haired, white-dressed, hidden-faced woman in a Flanagan work is more than a scary ghost: She symbolizes the bittersweet tragedy of a forgotten past. (SPOILERS FOLLOW.)
Not all October premieres have to be scary – although a lot of them are (see later in this post) – so let’s start off this look at first episodes of new streaming shows with “Emily in Paris” (Netflix). Well, I shouldn’t say it’s not at all scary. The story of Chicagoan Emily’s relocation to Paris for her job emphasizes her outsider status and loneliness even though she always puts on her delightfully Lily Collins face.
The pandemic has wreaked havoc with fall TV scheduling (it’s hard to tell one socially distanced, masked story, let alone fill a slate with them), and also revealed that (no surprise) cable and streaming were better prepared with content in their pipelines than the networks. But while 2020 serves up the thinnest lineup in modern TV history, it’s not a total wash. Here are my thoughts on 13 notable fall premieres, along with a “Go Bananas” Level (on a 10-point scale) of how excited I am for the series. All times Eastern:
Here are my 10 favorite characters from the last year of television, from networks to cable to streaming, counting down from 10 to 1:
After the first two parts showed a lot of potential and sometimes were quite fun, “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” Part 3 (January, Netflix) is more of a slog to get through, even though it’s eight episodes instead of the usual 10. Or maybe it’s because of the lower episode count but slightly longer episodes. The writers lean into the “Gilmore Girls” approach of telling as much story as they feel like in one sitting, but “Sabrina” should ideally use the “Buffy” approach with an act-based structure.
Here are 10 movies and 10 TV shows I’m looking forward to in the new year: