‘Lord of the Rings’ Prequel, Uploading Gets Serious in ‘Pantheon,’ Bogie Is Star of the Month, NASCAR Race for the Championship, Wong Drops into ‘She-Hulk’

Prime Video premieres the much-anticipated Lord of the Rings prequel The Rings of Power. The animated sci-fi drama Pantheon imagines the implications of Uploaded Intelligence (UI) after death. TCM salutes Humphrey Bogart as “Star of the Month,” with weekly tributes on Thursdays. USA follows the stars of a NASCAR season in the docuseries Race for the Championship. Marvel’s sorcerer Wong joins the satirical world of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Galadriel
Prime Video/Amazon Studios

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

Series Premiere

The money’s on the screen in Prime Video’s big-budget, lavish prequel to the events immortalized in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Whether scaling terrifying heights in the Northernmost Wastes, weathering a savage storm on the Sundering Seas or gaping at the dwarves’ mammoth underground kingdom, The Rings of Power is a reminder of what drew many of us to epic fantasy in the first place: wonder. (See the full review.)

Titmouse Inc/AMC

Pantheon

Series Premiere

A mind-blowing subject treated whimsically in Prime Video’s Upload becomes serious and sinister business in a provocative animated sci-fi drama about UI—Uploaded Intelligence—in which a digital simulation of the human mind can be uploaded to a mysterious cloud. The A-list voice cast is led by Daniel Dae Kim as the late David, whose consciousness has become a ghost in a corporate machine. When he reaches out to his grieving and bullied teenage daughter Maddie (Katie Chang), his widow Ellen (Rosemarie DeWitt) questions its authenticity, and the motivations of the shadowy company developing this tech. Paul Dano co-stars as moody tech-nerd teen Caspian, whose parents (Aaron Eckhart and Taylor Schilling) are engaged in a peculiar subterfuge of their own. Pantheon also features the final performance of William Hurt as a Steve Jobs-like tech legend.

Race for the Championship

Series Premiere

Get up close and personal with the contenders in this year’s NASCAR Cup season and playoffs in a 10-episode docuseries following the racers on and off the track. (By no coincidence, USA airs the kickoff to the playoffs Sunday from Darlington Raceway.) The series opens with the NASCAR season’s first race at the L.A. Coliseum, with 2021 Cup Series Champion Kyle Larson hoping to stay on top, and racer Joey Logano (pictured above) facing a tough decision on race day with a pregnant wife at home.

Everett

The African Queen

Humphrey Bogart won his sole Oscar as grizzled skipper Charlie Allnut in John Huston’s exhilarating 1951 adventure. The grand Katharine Hepburn co-stars as missionary spinster Rose, who joins him on a perilous journey down an African river to sabotage a German steamer during World War I. What better way to kick off TCM’s Star of the Month tribute to Bogie, with movies airing each Thursday in September. Queen is followed at 10/9c by Bogart’s iconic interpretation of gumshoe Sam Spade in 1941’s The Maltese Falcon. (His take on Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep from 1946 airs early Friday at 8 am/7c.)

Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer
Courtesy of Marvel Studios

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

If you’re amused by out-of-left-field celebrity cameos, this episode’s for you. Also joining in the fun of this superhero spoof: Marvel’s sorcerer supreme Wong (Benedict Wong), whose arrival amid the Abomination chaos prompts Jennifer/She-Hulk (Tatiana Maslany) to address the audience head-on: “Just remember whose show this actually is.” We also learn that Thor’s inspirational speeches are not admissible in court. And so the Marvel Cinematic (and TV) Universe rolls.

Inside Thursday TV:

  • Finales: With Labor Day approaching, several summer series are closing shop, including Peacock’s exotic mystery-comedy The Resort; on HBO Max, the comedy Rap Sh!t and the final four Season 4 episodes of Selena + Chef, including Selena Gomez’s first in-person lesson, from Gordon Ramsey; and on truTV, the season finale of 101 Places to Party Before You Die (11/10c), with Adam Pally enjoying a Happy Endings reunion with co-star Zachary Knighton (now on Magnum P.I.) in Maui.
  • Friday Night Lights (streaming on Prime Video): All five seasons of the beloved drama starring Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton as Coach and Tami Taylor are waiting to be binge-watched all over again.
  • The Ed Sullivan Show (streaming on Pluto TV): More than a half-century after the variety show ended, Pluto launches a new 24/7 channel (within the Classic TV category) with more than 75 hours devoted to the many acts who graced the Ed Sullivan (now Colbert) stage during the oft-imitated host’s 23-year run.
  • Screw (streaming on BritBox): A six-episode British prison drama focuses on two female officers, careerist Leigh (Nina Sosanya) and new recruit Rose (Jamie-Lee O’Donnell), who work in the C-Wing of the Long Marsh men’s prison.
  • True Crime Story: It Couldn’t Happen Here (10/9c, SundanceTV, streaming on AMC+): Hilarie Burton Morgan is back with new stories of true-crime cases that rattled small-town communities across America. First stop: Dallas, Georgia, where authorities are still puzzling over whether a woman found shot in her bathroom was suicide or murder.
  • Who Invited Them (streaming on Shudder): Veronica Mars’ Ryan Hansen stars in what sounds like a macabre twist on Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, when Adam (Hansen) and Margo (Melissa Tang) throw a housewarming party which one enigmatic couple (Timothy Granaderos and In the Dark’s Perry Mattfeld) refuses to leave. They say they’re the couple’s wealthy neighbors, but after many nightcaps, the truth may be more sinister.
  • Love in the Villa (streaming on Netflix): On a lighter note, Netflix flexes its Hallmark muscle with a romcom set in picturesque Verona, Italy, where broken-hearted Julie (The Vampire Diaries’ Kat Graham) is annoyed to learn that her rental villa has been double-booked and is already occupied by Charlie (Tom Hopper), a cocky wine importer from London. How long before opposites attract?