From the arrival of manga adaptation One Piece to the final season of Matt Groening’s animated medieval comedy Disenchantment, we round up our top 10 shows to watch this week
1. Once Upon a Time in Northern Ireland – Monday, August 28, WTVS & KCTS | Series Premiere
This powerful new five-part series gives voice to the people who lived through Northern Ireland’s violent past by sharing intimate, unheard testimonies from all sides of the conflict. The program combines unfiltered personal accounts with archival footage to tell the story of the people and communities that had to weather conflict daily—and are still dealing with its legacies today. Told chronologically from the beginning of the Troubles in the late 1960s to the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement signed 25 years ago in April 1998, viewers are presented with a deep dive into the complexities of the clash, through the eyes of those who saw it.
Kicking off with two back-to-back episodes, two more follow on Tuesday, with the finale airing on Wednesday. The opening episode charts Northern Ireland’s progression from relative peace to full-blown conflict after tensions between Catholic and Protestant communities exploded and the British Army was deployed. When 13 unarmed Catholics were shot dead in Derry by British paratroopers, the world looked on in shock and horror at what came to be known as “Bloody Sunday,” which yielded far-reaching political consequences, even becoming a useful recruitment tool for the provisional Irish Republican Army.
2. Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones – Wednesday, August 30, Netflix | Series Premiere
In this eye-opening new series, author Dan Buettner takes viewers along for the ride as he visits five of the world’s so-called “blue zones,” areas where inhabitants have been known to live long and healthy lives, consistently making it to their 100th birthdays. These include: Icaria, a Greek island where people eat a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, red wine and homegrown vegetables; the Ogliastra region of Sardinia, home to some of the oldest men in the world; Okinawa, Japan, where some of the world’s oldest women begin each day by practising tai chi; and the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, where the local diet is centred around beans and corn tortillas.
3. Battle of the Decades – Thursday, September 1, Food | Series Premiere
The “generation gap” comes up often in terms of pop culture, politics and workplace culture, but what about the kitchen? Host Jonathan Bennett emcees as skilled chefs from different generations come together to face off for a $10,000 prize. In each episode, chefs participate in a nostalgia round, during which they whip up a dish from a time capsule of ingredients and gadgets (“from Snoopy SnoCone machines to Easy Bake Ovens”). Then they head to the present, where they’re tasked with putting their own spin on a viral social media food trend. Finally, round three is all about the classics as they craft their own distinct version of a timeless dish. Judging it all are rotating duos made up of celeb chefs and their parents/children, like Eddie Jackson and his dad Eddie Sr., and Peter Fang and his daughter Kathy.
4. Dark Marvels – Wednesday, August 30, History | Series Premiere
If there’s one thing that the study of the past has demonstrated, it’s humanity’s boundless capacity for cruelty. This documentary series explores the history and engineering behind the world’s most creatively diabolical inventions, covering all the bases. Devious torture devices? Check! Terrifying weapons of war? You bet. Sinister spy tools and games of chance designed to kill? Why not? Over the course of six grisly episodes, Dark Marvels delves into the fascinating origin stories of the evil innovations that emerged from the darkest recesses of the most wicked minds. Compelling expert interviews, evocative recreations, archival footage and premium 3D graphics unpack the twisted tales behind these nefarious technologies, their creators and the historical figures who wound up succumbing to their lethal endgames, all while offering a heart-pounding probe into evil ingenuity that truly proves the darkest marvel of all is the human imagination.
5. Choose Love – Thursday, September 1, Netflix
Over the past few years, Netflix has been experimenting, to varying degrees of success, with “choose your own adventure”-style specials. Most notable was Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, but others in this very specific genre include Cat Burglar and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs the Reverend. Now it’s time to Choose Love. Directed by Stuart McDonald and written by Josann McGibbon, a duo perhaps best known for co-penning Runaway Bride, this interactive rom-com revolves around Cami (Laura Marano), a recording engineer who, far from not being able to land a fella, is positively drowning in suitors! In addition to her boyfriend (Scott Michael Foster), she’s working with a British rock star (Avan Jogia) and is still in touch with her first love (Jordi Webber). Her heart is in your hands!
6. One Piece – Thursday, August 31, Netflix | Series Premiere
Unless you’re a fan of Japanese manga (i.e. comic books), you’re probably unaware of One Piece, the genre’s biggest-selling title ever. Netflix subscribers, however, will be discovering what all the fuss is about this week with the debut of a live-action series based on the manga, centring on the adventures of a group of buccaneers dubbed the Straw Hat Pirates, led by Monkey J. Luffy (played by Iñaki Godoy). The show follows the crew’s epic quest to find the titular One Piece, the greatest treasure in existence, which will make Luffy the wealthiest pirate ever.
7. Power Book IV: Force – Friday, September 2, Starz2 | Season Premiere
Virginia Gardner stars as Abby Abernathy, a college freshman who is eager to distance herself from her dark past by focusing on her studies and meeting new friends. Her plans are quickly derailed when she meets Travis Maddox (Dylan Sprouse), becoming hopelessly, inextricably drawn toward the bad-boy brawler and campus charmer. While she tries to resist her attraction, Travis offers her a simple bet that winds up with the two becoming roommates for a month.
8. The Traitors – Friday, September 2, CTV | Series Premiere
Alan Cumming hosts this reality competition, set in a remote castle in the Scottish Highlands, in which an array of reality TV stars come together to compete for a $250,000 cash prize. The catch? Three of the contestants are secretly “traitors,” who hatch a devious scheme to steal the prize from the others.
9. Disenchantment – Friday, September 2, Netflix | Season Premiere
When it was first announced in 2017 that Matt Groening was bringing a new series to Netflix, fans’ imaginations ran wild with speculation on what unhinged animated world the cartoonist behind The Simpsons and Futurama would conjure up this time. The answer: Disenchantment, which followed the adventures of an alcoholic, rebellious princess named Bean (Abbi Jacobson), her less-than-brilliant elf buddy named—what else?—Elfo (Nat Faxon) and her very own personal demon, Luci (Eric André). Time has both flown and dragged since then, which is the sort of thing that happens when you’re dealing with a pandemic, but here we are five years later, and Netflix is dropping the final 10 episodes of the series’ 50-episode run.
Speaking of Netflix, the streamer offered a surprisingly lengthy summary of this final chapter, which goes a little something like this: “It all endeth here. The misadventures of hard-hitting, hard-drinking Queen Bean, her feisty elf companion Elfo and her personal demon Luci culminate in an epic battle for Dreamland. To save Dreamland from Queen Dagmar’s (Sharon Horgan) wicked rule, Bean must vanquish her mother and outrun a prophecy that foretells she will kill someone she loves. The stakes are as high as ever as our heroes face Satan, a headless corpse, an evil scientist and most terrifying of all—their true destiny.”
Will things conclude with the door left open for a Disenchantment movie or series revival down the line? Well, nothing’s ever really cancelled these days. But either way, the journey of Bean has been nothing if not robust. As Jacobson told SlashFilm, “I think the creators and the writers and everybody, they’ve just done such a great job of expanding the character from who we first meet in the beginning of the show.”
10. God. Family. Football. – Friday, September 2, Prime Video | Series Premiere
NFL star Russell Wilson is exec producer of this six-part docuseries about former pro football player, high school coach and pastor Denny Duron, following his journey as he comes out of a 30-year retirement from head coaching to lead the football program he founded at Evangel Christian Academy back to national prominence. “What drew me to this project and inspired me to help tell God. Family. Football.’s story of teamwork, hard work and discipline was coach Duron’s faith-first approach to the game,” said Wilson, noting that “Duron not only preaches but exemplifies what it means be a winner on and off the field...”