Last year, Marvel made a splash on Disney Plus with series including WandaVision and Loki. Now, after a four month hiatus, the MCU returns to the streaming service with a new series called Moon Knight starring Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawk. For those looking for romance instead of adventure, Netflix’s Shonda Rhimes-produced, Regency era hit Bridgerton is back for a sophomore season. While Regé-Jean Page is no longer part of the smash hit series, there are sure to be plenty of new sexy scenes to devour. After over nine years in development hell, Paramount Plus is finally releasing video game adaptation Halo, while Atlanta is making its return to FX/Hulu after a four-year delay.
Halo (Paramount Plus, March 24th)
This television series adaptation of Microsoft’s iconic Xbox Halo, stars Pablo Schreiber as super soldier Master Chief Petty Officer John-117. The blockbuster gaming franchise has sold over 81 million copies and grossed more than $6 billion in total sales since launching in 2001. The television adaptation has been in the works for over nine years, and Paramount Plus is banking on its success. The nine-episode series reportedly had a $90 million budget, and in February the streaming services doubled down for a second season. Set in Madrigal – a “Tier 4 Heavy Water Extraction Planet” – during the 26th-century, Halo centers around the alien invasion of the planet and Master Chief’s fight to save it. While the series scored a weak aggregate score of 64% on Rotten Tomatoes, some critics argued that with time the show will find its groove. “Seeing the world through a vacant perspective might work for a game in which the audience has its own agency, but not for a show that requires its own point of view. In its first two episodes, Halo doesn’t quite have that yet. But as another entrant in the ever expanding Halo universe, it at least has enough ambition to make it worth a closer look,” wrote Variety’s Caroline Framke.
Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed (Discovery Plus, March 24)
This three-part docuseries investigates the controversial history of Hillsong, a global megachurch that celebrities including Justin Bieber, Chris Pratt and Kevin Durant helped make famous and chic. The church, which touted “comforting Christian” music, was founded by Pastor Brian Houston, a man with, to put it mildly, questionable morals. Just in time for the series launch, Hillsong announced on March 21 that Houston breached the "Hillsong Pastor's Code of Conduct" involving separate incidents with two women over the last 10 years. Hillsong publicly apologized to the women, blaming Houston’s behavior on sleeping pills, anti-anxiety meds and alcohol. In addition to taking a deep dive into Houston’s scandalous past, the docuseries will address accusations that Houston covered up information about an incident where his father allegedly abused a boy in the 1970s. It’s hard to resist a true story about the rise and fall of an international pop culture, megachurch phenomenon.
Bridgerton - Season 2 (Netflix, March 25)
The first season of the Shonda Rhimes-produced series became Netflix’s most popular English-language television show ever after dropping in December 2020, with more than 625 million hours watched in the first 28 days on the global Netflix platform. Based on Julia Quinn’s collection of eight novels titled the Bridgerton Series, the show follows the London-based aristocratic Bridgerton family during the late 18th Century. Each season is dedicated to a different Bridgerton sibling’s love story. Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) and Duke of Hastings, Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page) were last season’s focus. The sophomore season is dedicated to Daphne’s brother, Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) and his romance with Simone Ashley (Kate Sharma). Despite the absence of Page -- the series breakout star -- season two promises plenty of what season one viewers arguably enjoyed the most steamy sex scenes.
Pachinko (Apple TV Plus, March 25th)
An adaptation of Min Jin Lee's 2017 best-selling, eponymously titled novel, the eight-episode series, told in Korean, English and Japanese, follows a Korean immigrant family across four generations. The story of family matriarch Sunja, who lived in South Korea during the early 1900s, is juxtaposed with the story of her grandson, Solomon, in the 1980s. Pachinko stars Academy Award-winning actress Youn Yuh Jung (Minari) as older Sunja. Korean superstar Lee Minho plays Hansu, a man whose relationship with Sunja takes many turns. Soo Hugh (The Terror) serves as the series' creator and show runner. According to critics, Hugh did a stellar job adapting a 500-page novel into an episodic TV series. So far, the show scored an aggregate 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Atlanta – Season 3 (Hulu, March 25)
The world has changed significantly since the last episode of Atlanta -- Season 2 debuted way back on May 10, 2018. But Earn (Donald Glover), Alfred /Paper Boi’ (Brian Tyree Henry), Darius (LaKeith Stanfield) and Van (Zazie Beetz) haven’t skipped a beat. In the 10-episode third season, the foursome are with rapper Paper Boi on his tour in Europe. The characters are out of their element, which should make Season 3 of this inventive, always-unpredictable series just as engaging as the previous seasons, which scored an aggregated 97% and 98% respectively on Rotten Tomatoes. Earlier this month, the first two episodes of the new season debuted at the South by Southwest film festival.
Blade Runner 2049 (Netflix, March 26)
This sequel to Ridley Scott’s critically acclaimed 1982 movie Blade Runner was not a box office hit when it was released in 2017. But in the last five years, the two hour and 44 minute film directed by Denis Villeneuve has become something of a cult classic. Blade Runner 2049 stars Ryan Gosling as Officer K, a member of the LAPD’s recently reactivated Blade Runner unit, who uncovers a secret that threatens to destabilize society. In the film Harrison Ford and Edward James Olmos reprised their roles from the original movie. “In terms of the imaginative ways it expands on the themes of the first movie, it is the rare sequel that is at least the equal of its iconic original,” wrote The Seattle Times’ Soren Andersen.
Mass (Hulu, March 26)
The film centers around two sets of parents dealing with the aftermath of a school shooting. One couple are the parents of a teenage boy who was killed and the other two are the parents of the shooter. Written and directed by veteran actor Fran Kranz, the film, which stars Reed Birney, Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs and Martha Plimpton, premiered at Sundance 2021 to rave reviews. Dowd earned a BAFTA nomination for the role. “This mercifully reserved film is light on big moments, but Dowd aces its riskiest and most vulnerable monologue, as Linda offers a nuanced and all-too-human defense that the court of public opinion would never abide,” wrote IndieWire’s David Ehrlich.
The 94th Academy Awards (ABC TV Network, March 27)
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences is trying its best to get you to watch the Oscars. While award show viewership is down in general, last year’s Academy Award ceremony linear broadcast drew an average of 9.85 million viewers. That’s a 58.3%, 13.75 million viewer decline from 2020. While the 2020 telecast was more intimate and less lively due to the pandemic, the show’s numbers have been on the decline for several years. To spruce things up, after three years sans host, AMPAS hired comedians Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes to emcee the event. In an attempt to streamline the typically drawn-out ceremony, AMPAS also decided to axe eight major categories from the live telecast, including film editing and production design. Those categories will be awarded during off-air parts of the show. To liven things up, best original song nominee Beyoncé may be making an appearance. Rumor has it that the singer will perform Be Alive from the film King Richard, live from the tennis courts in Compton, California where Venus and Serena Williams practiced as children. Nominated films include Apple Original Films’ CODA, Netflix’s Don’t Look Up, MGM/UAR’s Licorice Pizza, Searchlight’s Nightmare Alley and Disney’s West Side Story. Lady Gaga, Chris Rock, Zoe Kravitz, Wesley Snipes, Uma Thurman, Rami Malek, Lily James, and Kevin Costner are scheduled to present.
The Girl From Plainville (Hulu, March 29)
Based on the eponymous Esquire article by Jesse Barron, this eight-episode limited series starring Elle Fanning is inspired by the true story of Michelle Carter’s “texting suicide” case. At 17, Carter famously encouraged Conrad Roy III to kill himself over text messages and was eventually convicted of involuntary manslaughter. As with all true crime series, uncovering the why behind the wrongdoing is what makes them intriguing. There are so many why’s when it comes to Carter’s case. If this series can deliver just one answer, it will be worth the watch.
Moon Knight (Disney Plus, March 30th)
If you like Batman, then you might also like Moon Knight. Starring Oscar Isaac as the titular character, Moon Knight is the first Marvel Cinematic Marvel Disney Plus series to debut this year. Created in 1975 by Doug Moench and Don Perlin for the comic series Werewolf by Knight, Isaac’s "Moon Knight" character has dissociative identity disorder (DID) and is the secret identity of Marc Spector, a former CIA operative turned mercenary. Ethan Hawke plays bad guy Arthur Harrow. Moon Knight will be followed by a new slate of MCU shows including Secret Invasion, She-Hulk and Ms. Marvel. Last year Disney released MCU streaming series WandaVision, Loki, Hawkeye and Falcon and the Winter Soldier. While Disney doesn’t share actual viewing numbers, critics and audiences alike praised each series making their latest MCU creation worth a look.
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