‘Atlanta’ Returns, ‘Halo’ Comes to TV, Directors Remember a ‘Perfect Shot,’ ‘Bel-Air’ Throwback
Donald Glover’s acclaimed comedy Atlanta returns to FX after a nearly four-year hiatus. Developed for Showtime, a big-budget dramatization of the video game Halo finds a streaming home on Paramount+. In One Perfect Shot, movie directors literally walk us through a signature film’s most memorable moments. Two original cast members of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air show up in Peacock’s reimagined Bel-Air.
Expect the unexpected as Donald Glover’s critically worshipped comedy returns after a nearly four-year absence. Atlanta is less a place than a state of mind as Earn (Glover) manages cousin Albert/Paper Boi’s (Brian Tyree Henry) rap career on a European tour, shot on location. But in the first of two back-to-back episodes, a surreal and disturbing vignette serves as a racially charged curtain-raiser, with Glover and the rest of the cast nowhere in sight. (See the full review.)
The thrills are mostly mechanical in a shoot-by-numbers dramatization of the video game franchise. Pablo Schreiber stars as Master Chief Petty Officer John-117, a Spartan super-soldier who in true Mandalorian tradition is rarely seen without his fancy helmet on. The story, such as it is, kicks in when his troops intervene in an invasion by the beastly alien Covenant on the colonized planet Madrigal, where he rescues the attack’s sole native survivor, the spunky teenage rebel Kwan (Yerin Ha). Watching from HQ: the ethereal Dr. Halsey (Natascha McElhone), who’s intrigued by John’s transformation after he comes in contact with a mysterious object of alien tech.
Star Trek: Picard
The Trek spinoff is on richer sci-fi ground as the time-traveling crew continues its adventures in 2024 Los Angeles. With only a few days left to fix the timeline, Picard (Patrick Stewart) leaves his chateau to join his scattered colleagues in L.A., where he crosses paths with a significant presence from his future. Elsewhere, with Rios (Santiago Cabrera) in ICE custody, Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) and Raffi (Michelle Hurd) race to his rescue, and L.A. traffic may never recover from the former Borg taking the wheel.
One Perfect Shot
This cinematic docuseries feels like a collection of amazing DVD extras, with contemporary directors walking us through some of their best-known films’ most iconic scenes, entering their own shots in an immersive 360-degree visual tour. The six directors, and their films, include Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman), Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7), Michael Mann (Heat), Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians), Malcolm D. Lee (Girls Trip) and Kasi Lemmons (Harriet).
In a generous nod to the past, the reimagined dramatization of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air welcomes two members of the original ensemble to return for cameos in the first season’s penultimate episode. Daphne Maxwell Reid, Fresh Prince’s second Aunt Viv, and Bob Hearts Abishola’s Vernee Watson-Johnson (OG Viola “Vy” Smith) appear as Helen and Janice, members of the hoity-toity Art Council Board of Trustees
After last week’s most unwelcome detour with the ghost of Ellis Grey and a pointless subplot involving the niece of Meredith’s (Ellen Pompeo) boyfriend Nick (Scott Speedman) during what was meant to be a romantic weekend in a remote cabin, the action thankfully returns to Seattle for some hospital drama. Richard (James Pickens Jr.) is still in a funk over the Webber Method fiasco, doubting his surgical abilities, while a pet python makes its presence known.
Inside Thursday TV:
- NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament (7 pm/ET, CBS; 7:30 pm/ET, TBS): First seeds take on opponents in the Sweet 16 round, as No. 1 Gonzaga faces No. 4 Arkansas (CBS) while No. 2 Villanova plays No. 11 Michigan (TBS); followed by No. 2 Duke vs. No. 3 Texas Tech (CBS) and No. 1 Arizona taking on No. 5 Houston (TBS).
- Station 19 (8/7c, ABC): Flashbacks reveal Sullivan’s (Boris Kodjoe) past with Fire Chief Natasha Ross (Greenleaf’s Merle Dandridge).
- grown-ish (10/9c, Freeform): It’s graduation day in the Season 4 finale, and the Johnsons gather to celebrate Zoey’s (Yara Shahidi) big day while her crew looks back and towards the future. When the show returns for Season 5, Zoey’s brother Junior (Marcus Scribner) will join the cast from black-ish, embarking on his own undergrad journey.
- Our Flag Means Death (streaming on HBO Max): The first season of the hilarious pirate spoof ends with two episodes. Also on HBO Max’s overcrowded docket: Season 2 of the romantic comedy Starstruck and two more episodes of the frothy Minx, about a feminist who launches an erotic male-nudie mag for women.
- The Dropout (streaming on Hulu): Elizabeth Holmes’ (Amanda Seyfried) celebrity rises in a pivotal episode of the riveting docudrama, but the seeds of her downfall take shape as new Theranos employees Tyler Shultz (Dylan Minnette) and Erika Cheung (Camryn Mi-Young Kim) discover the depths of the company’s deceit. Elsewhere, investigative reporter John Carreyrou (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) looks for anyone to go on the record about the fraud.
- Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed (streaming on discovery+): A three-part docuseries examines the scandals within the “global brand” church, showing a pattern of trauma, abuse and labor exploitation.
- The Spine of Night (streaming on Shudder): Richard E. Grant, Lucy Lawless, Patton Oswalt and Joe Manganiello are among the impressive voices in an adult animated fantasy about heroes from disparate eras joining forces to defeat dark magic.
- WWE Evil (streaming on Peacock): John Cena executive produces a docuseries exploring the twisted psyches of iconic pro-wrestling villains, starting with “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan.