‘Sopranos’ Prequel, ‘Seinfeld’ Lands on Netflix, CBS’ Friday Lineup, ‘Diana’ Musical and a ‘Maid’s Life on Netflix, Horror Via Lego ‘Star Wars’ and Eli Roth
The game of streaming musical chairs brings the immortal Seinfeld to Netflix. HBO Max sheds light on Tony Soprano’s origins in the prequel film The Many Saints of Newark. CBS launches its new Friday lineup, now including S.W.A.T. Before it opens on Broadway, a musical about Diana bows on Netflix, which also presents a sobering series about a Maid struggling in poverty. As a Halloween curtain raiser, Disney+ offers the whimsical Lego Star Wars Terrifying Tales, while AMC launches a third season of Eli Roth’s History of Horror.
The Many Saints of Newark
Ever wonder how Tony Soprano became pop culture’s most conflicted mobster since Michael Corleone? This prequel film (also premiering in theaters) from The Sopranos’ celebrated creator David Chase sheds light on Tony’s upbringing, as the young delinquent (played by the late James Gandolfini’s son, Michael) is taken under the wing of slick racketeer Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola)—“Moltisanti” being Italian for “many saints.” Sopranos fans will dig seeing who’s-playing-who from the original series’ memorable cast of characters, including Bates Motel’s formidable Vera Farmiga as Tony’s bitter mom Livia, trapped in an abusive marriage to “Johnny Boy” Soprano (Jon Bernthal).
Here’s something you didn’t hear Seinfeld fans say this summer, when the iconic sitcom vanished from streaming after dropping from Hulu in June: Not that there’s anything wrong with it. Order has been restored in the comedy universe, with all nine seasons now arriving like a special Festivus gift on Netflix.
The enduring family police drama returns for its 12th season, with New York City police commissioner Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) clashing with the mayor (Dylan Walsh) over how to handle the rising crime rate in the metropolis. Also frustrated: detective son Danny (Donnie Wahlberg), who goes back to psychic Maggie (Callie Thorne) as a last resort after a toddler is killed in crossfire. Daughter Erin (Bridget Moynihan) looks into a fascinating case from decades ago involving her D.A. boss Kimberly Crawford (Roslyn Ruff), who was the primary eyewitness to a killing when she was just 13 years old.
Hondo (Shemar Moore) becomes a modern-day Shane as the urban crime drama takes a detour to Mexico to open the fifth season on a new night and time. He’s taking stock of his future south of the border after being demoted from team leader for speaking out publicly about racism within the LAPD. You can’t keep a good hero down for long, which is how he ends up coming to the rescue of a young woman and her widowed mother whose farm is at the mercy of land-grabbing villains.
Look who else is abroad (though not for too much longer): Higgins (Perdita Weeks), still traveling with Dr. Ethan Shah (Jay Ali) as the reboot’s fourth season begins, while Magnum (Jay Hernandez) is keeping his own budding relationship with HPD detective Lia Kaleo (Chantal Thuy) on the down-low.
Diana: The Musical
Be first in line to see this yet-to-open Broadway musical—postponed like all stage shows last year by the pandemic—that celebrates the life and legacy of the dazzling Princess Diana (Jeanna de Waal). Filmed during the shutdown at New York’s Longacre Theatre, without an audience, the musical—now set to open in November—also features Tony winner Judy Kaye as Queen Elizabeth. (Broadway is currently obsessed with royals, with the rock concert-style Six, about the wives of Henry VIII, officially opening Sunday.)
Margaret Qualley (Fosse/Verdon) will capture and break your heart in this grueling and realistic drama, inspired by Stephanie Land’s memoir, as Alex, a determined single mom who flees an abusive relationship with her young daughter and takes the only job she can get, as a housecleaner for pitiful wages. As she struggles against the defeating cycle of poverty, her love for her child and desire for a better future keeps you engaged, even when the 10-part series seems unbearably bleak. The impressive cast includes Andie MacDowell (Qualley’s real-life mom) as her selfishly flighty mother, who’s little help when Alex hits rock bottom.
LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales
Tony Hale (Veep, The Mysterious Benedict Society) provides the voice of Darth Vader’s long-suffering servant Vaneé in this whimsical animated Halloween-themed special. He spins a trilogy of spine-tingling tales featuring fabled Star Wars characters while playing tour guide through a creepy castle to a crash-landed Poe and BB8.
Eli Roth’s History of Horror
Horror director/producer Eli Roth takes the movie genre seriously, launching a third season of his series that deconstructs the best and worst aspects of scary movies. His subject for the opener: “Sequels (That Don’t Suck).” Roth enlists a crew of experts and celebrities, including Joe Dante, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Englund (Freddy!), Greg Nicotero and more to give superior sequels (A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Psycho II and Scream 2, to name a few) their due.
Inside Friday TV:
- The Most Magical Story on Earth: 50 Years of Walt Disney World (8/7c, ABC): Rising from Florida’s swamplands, the theme park has become a destination for millions, including an untold number of Super Bowl champs. Whoopi Goldberg hosts a two-hour retrospective of Walt Disney World’s history, with performances by Christina Aguilera and Halle Bailey (The Little Mermaid).
- Kennedy Center at 50 (9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): Also marking a golden anniversary, the Washington, D.C. performing arts center staged a celebratory concert filmed in September, with Audra McDonald as host and Caroline Kennedy a special guest. The eclectic lineup of performers includes Broadway stars (Kelli O’Hara, Tony Yasbeck), Darren Criss, Common, Renée Fleming, Ben Folds and the National Symphony Orchestra.
- Dynasty (9/8c, The CW): The fourth season of the legendary soap’s under-the-radar reboot ends with an episode titled “Filled with Manipulations and Deceptions.” Sounds about right.
- The Guilty (streaming on Netflix): Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) directs True Detective writer Nic Pizzolatto’s intense 90-minute movie thriller, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a 911 operator whose fateful exchange with a distressed caller has him questioning his own life.
- Apple’s Orchard: Three reasons to check out the robust Apple TV+ lineup: On the Emmy-winning Ted Lasso, Sam Richardson guests as a tech mogul from Ghana with an appealing offer for star player Sam (Toheeb Jimoh). It’s also Dr. Sharon’s (Sarah Niles) last day, and she hates saying goodbye almost as much as Ted (Jason Sudeikis)… In the season finale of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Mr. Corman, a soul-revealing date leads Josh Corman back to music… The Morning Show introduces The Good Wife’s Julianna Margulies as star reporter Laura Peterson, shaking things up as she interviews Alex (Jennifer Aniston) in anticipation of her comeback and follows Bradley (Reese Witherspoon) on the campaign trail.
- True Crime Watch: ABC’s 20/20 (10/9c) reports on “Soho Grifter” scam artist Anna Sorokin, who passed herself off as a German heiress until a sting operation brought her down. She talks with Deborah Roberts after her release from prison…Dateline NBC (9/8c) dives into the murder of North Carolina construction worker James Chambers, a case that has puzzled investigators since his disappearance in 2014.
- The Graham Norton Show (11/10c, BBC America): Outgoing James Bond star Daniel Craig (No Time to Die) visits the cheeky host for the 29th season premiere. Ed Sheeran performs “Shivers.”