From a Pamela Anderson documentary to gripping plane-crash drama, we round up our top 10 shows to watch this week
1. 90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way – Sunday, January 29, TLC | Season Premiere
TLCIt’s a new year, which means a whole new slew of continent-crossed couples coming together through the power of reality television. This week, that means returning to one of the medium’s most lasting franchises and a fourth season of one of its most popular spinoffs. The latest instalment of The Other Way introduces a fresh array of couples who are putting everything on the line for a shot at love. Rather than foreigners coming to the U.S. to solidify their relationships, this iteration features Americans travelling to another country to be with their online boos and trying to make their romantic dreams a reality.
This year, there’s plenty of change afoot, as Daniele Gates and Yohan Geronimo are the only returning couple. (They previously made their debut on 90 Day Fiancé: Love in Paradise, when New Yorker Daniele journeyed to the Dominican Republic for Yohan following a vacation.) The good news is, that leaves more camera time for the new lovebirds. That includes American Kris and Colombia native Jeymi; Debbie and her Moroccan beau Oussama; Jen and Rishi in India; Nicole and her Egyptian boyfriend Mahmoud; and Gabriel and his Colombian girlfriend Isabel.
The first episode kicks off with beaucoup drama right off the bat, as Debbie and Oussama get into a tense argument and Kris and Jeymi endure a rather heated clash of their own. “Let me be who I am, let me have a little freedom,” Nicole tells Mahmoud in the trailer. “You have more freedom than any wife I can have,” Mahmoud replies.
Needless to say, the reunions are shortlived as these couples try and figure out their cultural differences and learn for themselves whether love is enough. Watch for gender roles, trust issues, family drama and friendships to also factor into the ups and downs as the intrigue unravels.
2. Pamela: A Love Story, Tuesday, January 31, Netflix
NetflixPamela Anderson may be one of the world’s most famous women, but how well do fans know the real person behind the well-honed sex-symbol image? That’s something that this new documentary aims to rectify by presenting what’s described as an “intimate and humanizing portrait of one of the world’s most famous blonde bombshells,” by “following the trajectory of Pamela Anderson’s life and career from small-town girl to international sex symbol, actress, activist and doting mother.” Anyone expecting salacious gossip is unlikely to find any here, given that one of the film’s producers is Anderson’s own son, Brandon Thomas Lee.
3. Fight the Power: How Hip-Hop Changed the World – Tuesday, January 31, WTVS & KCTS | Series Premiere
PBSDeveloped by Public Enemy rapper Chuck D and his producing partner Lorrie Boula, this hugely anticipated four-part series presents the story of hip-hop through a unique perspective, looking at rap music in its infancy as an organic expression of experience that was unapologetic, fierce and empowering as it spoke truth to power and informed a nation through a very different lens than anything that had been heard up until that point.
Featuring firsthand accounts from some of rap’s most integral players, this unique documentary event weaves intimate interviews together with amazing archival footage to recount the origins of this revolutionary art form through the voices of those who were there at the beginning, creating a raw and powerful anthology detailing how hip-hop came to be a cultural phenomenon against the backdrop of American history.
“The hip-hop community has, from the start, been doing what the rest of media is only now catching up to,” said Chuck D of the project. “Long before any conglomerate realized it was time to wake up, hip-hop had been speaking out and telling truths. Working with PBS and BBC is an opportunity to deliver these messages through new ways and help explain hip-hop’s place in history and hopefully inspire us all to take it further.”
4. Cunk on Earth – Tuesday, January 31, Netflix | Series Premiere
NetflixIt’s one thing to do a mockumentary, but doing one that incorporates real experts who don’t realize they’re in a mockumentary takes skill. In regards to Diane Morgan’s performance as inquisitive, absurdist historian Philomena Cunk in Cunk on Earth, she gets away with it, but it’s harder with each episode. “When we first started doing [Cunk], obviously nobody knew,” said Morgan. “They’d sign a release form and not know what the show was. Then they tend to get quite angry because you’re trampling all over their favourite topic. And then there was a point where some people started to know because their sons or daughters would go, ‘Oh, Cunk, you’ve got to do it.’ I think a lot of experts just don’t watch television. So, they literally don’t know what they’re in for. And they certainly don’t know what questions they’re gonna get.”
5. The Baking Show: The Professionals – Wednesday, February 1, Netflix | Series Premiere
NetflixThis U.K. competition features la crème de la crème of the U.K. baking world. Watch as teams of pro pastry chefs face off in unique challenges to create delicious dishes and earn the top prize.
6. Schoolhouse Rock! 50th Anniversary Singalong – Wednesday, February 1, ABC
ABCThere’s a strong contingent of educators who maintain that song is one of the best ways to learn. Said theory was put to the test with the classic children’s series Schoolhouse Rock, which aired Saturday mornings in the 1970s (and again in the early 1990s). Now, on the 50th anniversary of the original show’s debut, it’s back with a primetime special that celebrates the teaching power of song.
ABC staple Ryan Seacrest hosts as the new headmaster and welcomes a slew of guests who are cued up to deliver some thoughtful, toe-tapping seminars. Among them are the Black Eyed Peas, who sing about how “Three Is a Magic Number” and NE-YO, who performs “Verb: That’s What’s Happening.”
Standup comedian Fortune Feimster is also teaming with the Muppets to “Unpack Your Adjectives,” while actors Raven Symoné and Kal Penn are stopping by to school everyone on “Interjections.”
Not quite enough star power for you? Retta, Shaquille O’Neal, Jason Biggs, Julianne Hough, Derek Hough and Hayley Erbert are also on the lesson plan.
7. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Wednesday, February 1, Disney+
Disney+Released in 2018, Marvel’s Black Panther made history as the highest-grossing movie in history to feature a Black director (Ryan Coogler) and predominantly Black cast, led by Chadwick Boseman as the titular superhero/king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. The film’s success spawned immediate plans for a sequel, which was placed in question after Boseman’s cancer-related death in 2020. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which has so far raked in more than $830 million at the global box office, arrives this week on Disney+, serving as a tribute to Boseman while also furthering the story within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As the citizens of Wakanda mourn the death of their beloved King T’Challa, they must once again band together to fend off a threat to their nation from intervening world powers, eager to get their greedy hands on Wakanda’s advanced technology, as well as the underwater Talokan army led by Prince Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejía).
8. The Ark – Wednesday, February 1, CTV Sci-Fi | Series Premiere
CTV Sci-FiStargate SG-1 co-creator Jonathan Glassner returns with a tense exploration of survival and human nature, set aboard an interstellar vessel dubbed the Ark One. The mission of this advanced, self-sustaining vessel is to find a habitable planet as Earth dies out in the distance. But when a cataclysmic event kills off many of the passengers and leaves the ship’s systems scuttled, the remaining crew must band together to stay alive and safeguard the future of our species.
As producer Dean Devlin summed up to SYFY Wire: “A show like The Ark is all about the characters because we’re stuck on the spaceship and we’re stuck with these people. It’s not a show where you can constantly bring in guest stars, because everybody’s on the ship! So it really takes some deft writing to keep it compelling and surprising—and Jonathan’s a master of that.”
9. Freeridge – Thursday, February 2, Netflix | Series Premiere
NetflixFrom 2018 to 2021, Netflix viewers thrilled to In My Block, a series which followed a group of friends living in the Los Angeles neighbourhood of Freeridge, a rough area that resulted in situations which helped strengthen the bond of friendship between the teenage characters. The show evolved over the course of its four seasons, and with this spinoff, there’s a whole new vibe and storyline, following sibling rivals Gloria and Ines and their friends Demi and Cameron as they deal with a curse that they’ve unleashed, one which is bringing some serious misfortune into their lives. “Fans should know that the new core four of Freeridge don’t step into the shoes of our original crew,” series co-creator Lauren Iungerich told Tudum. “They step into their own shoes, right alongside the legacy of the kids who came before them. Through the lens of this new group of friends, we’ll see Freeridge as we know it and also explore a Freeridge we haven’t seen before. Where On My Block was driven by the boys, Freeridge is being driven by the girls.”
10. Dear Edward – Friday, February 3, Apple TV+ | Series Premiere
Apple TV+If you’re looking for a touching story to invest some time into that doesn’t involve intense special effects or an apocalypse, you may want to consider this Apple TV+ original. The 10-part series is written and produced by Jason Katims, the guy who brought us Parenthood and Friday Night Lights. Katims, who has a new overall deal to develop content for Apple, adapted the story from Ann Napolitano’s bestselling novel of the same name, and if the source material is any indication, tears will be shed and hearts will be wrenched.
It all revolves around a 12-year-old boy named Edward Adler (newcomer Colin O’Brien) who becomes the lone survivor of a devastating commercial plane crash that also kills his family, and everyone else onboard. As Edward and people all over the world try to make sense of the tragedy and come to terms with their new realities, this harrowing situation also opens the door for unexpected friendships, romances and communities. Indeed, despite the dark premise, a press release promises that Dear Edward is “a heartbreaking, life-affirming and uplifting story about survival, resilience, connection and the examination of what makes us human.” In other words, it’s very much on-brand for Katims and his style of grounded, nuanced, deeply human stories.
The series also stars longtime Katims collaborator and Emmy-nominee Connie Britton (The White Lotus) and SAG-winner Taylor Schilling (Orange Is the New Black). Schilling plays Edward’s Aunt Lacey, who takes him in following the crash, while Britton portrays Lacey’s friend, whose husband died in the accident.
Like many other Apple originals, the first three episodes of the show drop this week, with new instalments to follow each week thereafter until the finale.