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From Brendan Fraser's new espionage thriller to a high-school series from Canadian musical duo Tegan & Sara, we round up our top 10 shows to watch this week
CraveInspired by the acclaimed Swedish novel and film of the same name, the series centres on Mark (Demián Bichir) and his daughter Eleanor (Madison Taylor Baez), whose lives were changed 10 years earlier when she was turned into a vampire. Stuck at age 12, perhaps forever, Eleanor lives a closed-in life, able to go out only at night, while her father does his best to provide her with the human blood she needs to stay alive. With these emotionally charged and terrifying ingredients as a starting point, the show is poised to upend viewers’ expectations of what a horror series can be, turning a naturalistic lens on human frailty, strength and compassion.
W NetworkDirected by Lisa Rideout, this feature-length documentary explores the life of world-renowned sex educator Sue Johanson, whose radio program Sunday Night Sex Show (which eventually came to television), provided plain-spoken sex ed to generations of Canadians. Whether confronting homophobia during the HIV/AIDS epidemic or facing off with anti-abortion activists, Johanson—now 92—was on the frontlines, empowering her listeners with judgment-free advice. Dan Savage, Russell Peters, George Stroumboulopoulos, Margaret Cho and others reflect on her influence and still-resonant legacy.
NetflixThe same Easy Bake oven you may have used to whip up cakes and cookies as a kid is the highlight of TV’s latest culinary competition. Yup, that’s right—in each episode of this new show, competitors face off in the kitchen to make simple but delicious meals, all while using the classic Hasbro toy.
Queer Eye star and celebrity Canadian food expert Antoni Porowski hosts all eight episodes while doling out tips and tricks to help the competitors (and the viewers at home) succeed in a stressful kitchen setting.
Speed, ease and taste are all critical factors as these home chefs compete for the $25,000 episode prize, not to mention the opportunity to pocket up to another $100,000.
PBSThis all-new PBS special tells the inspiring story of how a man born into slavery became one of the most prominent statesmen and influential voices for democracy in American history. Born in 1818 in Maryland, Frederick Douglass escaped from a plantation in 1838 and went on to become the most well-known leader of the abolitionist movement. A gifted writer and powerful, charismatic orator, it is estimated that more Americans heard Douglass speak than any other 19th-century figure—Black or white. The documentary explores how Douglass controlled his own image and narrative, embracing photography as a tool for social justice, and the role he played in securing the right to freedom and complete equality for African-Americans. Executive-produced by Academy Award-nominated Stanley Nelson and Lynne Robinson, the film is produced and directed by Nelson and Nicole London, with actor Wendell Pierce (The Wire) providing the voice of Douglass. As Nelson explained during a recent appearance at the Television Critics Association press tour, “Douglass is a real symbol of hope, of progressiveness, of change. I think that he’s all those things. And, you know, he changed in his lifetime and became somebody different over and over again. And that’s part of what the film is about.”
The CWIf you’re tired of superhero dramas and angsty teens with supernatural tendencies, this incoming series switches things up for The CW. Made in 2020, the series stars Brendan Fraser as Peter Swann, a billionaire futurist whose advanced medical satellite explodes on deployment. So he and his fiancée, medical visionary Dr. Graciela “Grace” Davila (Elena Anaya), turn to a hardened former counterintelligence officer named Vincent Corbo (Tom Welling) for help.
As Corbo hunts down those responsible for the disaster, he and his team uncover a sinister conspiracy of rivals, corrupt government officials and downright criminals working together to destroy the visionary and take control of his tech empire.
Stevel Marc, Ken Duken and Jazzara Jaslyn also star in the 10-episode series.
Disney+The Westbrook Sirens had a successful finish when they earned themselves a spot in a higher division last season. But between losing their assistant coach and a bold new player whose temper begins tearing them apart, this basketball team has lots of friction to face when the 10-episode second-season comes to Disney+ this week.
NetflixThis six-episode series dramatizes the birth of music-streaming service Spotify. The brainchild of whiz-kid CEO Daniel Ek, he found his tiny startup targeted by the mighty Steve Jobs, who realized that downloaded music kept within his software was the key weapon in his holy war against Google—only to have Spotify redraw the battle lines. Tracing Spotify’s humble origins, this drama takes viewers into the corporate battle over streaming music that most people didn’t even realize was taking place.
Apple TV+It’s been a while since Charlie Hunnam committed to a TV series, and who can blame him? After helming the dark and tragic role of Jax Teller on Sons of Anarchy for seven seasons, he turned to more short-term, big-screen projects to switch things up. Until now, that is.
Hunnam is going after that sweet AppleTV+ money in this lavish production. The great news? He’ll also ride a bike. There’s much more to this story than a vintage motorcycle, though. Lin is a heroin addict who was jailed for a robbery, but he eventually escapes and reinvents himself as a doctor in the slums of Bombay. From there, he travels to Afghanistan and partners with a mob boss battling Russian criminals, so you know there’s plenty of action in store during this 12-episode ride.
Shantaram, which means “man of God’s peace,” is the Hindu name Indian villagers give Lin. It’s all based on the book by Gregory David Roberts, who pulled this remarkable tale from his own life experiences. “Some experiences from my life are described pretty much as they happened, and others are created narratives, informed by my experience,” the author once said during a Q&A. The result is the story of a man with no home or identity who is on the run and searching for love and meaning. That’s just the surface of what to expect from this project; torture, betrayal, war, and murder are also on the menu. In other words, grab a box of tissues and be prepared to be emotionally invested when the first three episodes drop this week. Weekly instalments will follow.
Prime VideoTo play a famous pair of twins, it takes a pair of non-famous ones—at least in the case of High School.
Platinum-selling indie-pop stars Tegan and Sara Quin, natives of Calgary who these days call B.C. home, wrote a bestselling coming-of-age memoir in 2019. Now, that book has been adapted into a Prime Video series that begins streaming with four episodes on Friday (the four remaining episodes unrolling across the next two Fridays). First premiered at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival in September, the show casts TikTok stars Railey and Seazynn Gilliland as the teenaged Tegan and Sara, with Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother) and Kyle Bornheimer (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) as their parents.
“It’s very surreal, very nerve-racking,” the real Tegan says of dramatizing her and Sara’s lives. “We’re definitely preparing our family and friends for this next part of the journey. When we wrote our memoir a few years ago, we set out to do something that we thought was really important… which was to tell a story about queer women, and specifically about music and coming out and adolescence, in a way that was really smart and intelligent.”
Tegan credits actress-turned-filmmaker Clea DuVall—who serves as producer, writer and director of High School—with making the Quin twins comfortable translating the book to the screen: “Clea and Sara and I have been friends for a long time, and when she approached us about turning the memoir into a TV show, Sara and I just felt reassured right away that somebody who cared about us and our family and friends was at the helm.”
Railey Gilliland maintains making the series “wasn’t easy in the slightest, but getting to hang out with Tegan and Sara and getting to know them made that just slightly easier. Their stories are relatable to Seazynn and me. And we just had a lot of fun.”
Adds Seazynn Gilliland, “I think that there was a responsibility, but it was only the best kind of responsibility. I’ve never seen anything like this on screen before. When I was 15 myself, I would have loved to see something like this. I think it’s really important to show, and I was able to be the one to show that. So that was nice.”
Despite the success she and Tegan have enjoyed, Sara Quin says of early tunes they wrote and performed, “We had decided that all of the music was bad.
It’s actually been the support of people around us who’ve reassured us that the music is strong enough to be a focal point on the show. I think it just sort of shows that young people can do amazing things, right even out of the gate before they’ve had years of training and experience. Sometimes, our first instinct is our best instinct.”
Disney+One of the most entertaining ways of approaching classic literary works is to find a new angle of approaching the tale or its characters, and the author whose past efforts have proven themselves most adaptable to such shifts in storytelling is William Shakespeare. Take, for instance, the way playwright Tom Stoppard took two minor characters from Hamlet and created an entirely new look at the Hamlet-verse, if you will, with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. In this latest instance, novelist Rebecca Serle took Romeo and Juliet and penned When You Were Mine, which was adapted into the new film Rosaline by screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber.
In Shakespeare’s original play, Rosaline was Juliet’s cousin, and she’s the one Romeo was actually smitten with, a situation that changed when he tried to catch a glimpse of Rosaline at a Capulet-thrown party, spotted Juliet first, and fell head over heels in love with her instead. The thing is, the character of Rosaline is only a plot device in the play, never actually appearing in person. Here, however, she’s the titular character, played by Kaitlyn Dever, and she’s decided that there’s no way she’s going to let Juliet have her man. “Rosaline is determined to break them up and get Romeo back any way she can, but communication in 16th century Italy isn’t as easy as just picking up the phone, so she’s forced to get creative,” director Karen Maine (Obvious Child and Starstruck) told People. “Through her attempts, Rosaline discovers new truths about herself, friendship and what it really means to be in love.”
In the film, Romeo and Juliet are played by Kyle Allen and Isabela Merced, with the rest of the all-star cast filled out by Sean Teale, Spencer Stevenson, Christopher McDonald, Minnie Driver and Bradley Whitford.