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Oof, this is a difficult week for new TV.
The biggest title of the week is probably Bird Box Barcelona. This is an alternate take on the Sandra Bullock Netflix film that came out right at the start of the pandemic. But that was a whole pandemic ago and it certainly feels like the world forgot Bird Box was even a thing some time back. This one, as the title suggests, is set in Barcelona and, well, I understand your lack of enthusiasm. I’m sure it’ll be fine.
The highlight of the week is easily The Afterparty on Apple TV+. This is the second season of the murder-mystery comedy starring Sam Richardson and Tiffany Haddish. I’m a few episodes into the new season (the first two dropped on Apple TV+ on Wednesday) and I am not convinced there needed to be a second season of the show. I rather liked the first season, but this second season feels a bit lifeless and lacking in spirit. One would have been enough.
Steven Soderbergh has a new show for Max. Full Circle is a noir murder and reviews have been pretty mixed. Variety’s Alison Herman called it a “minor work” for the ‘retired’ feature film director. Here’s The Guardian’s Adrian Horton:
The result is a curious, ultimately frustrating collection of disparate parts. There’s a nagging discordance between Solomon’s writing – which trends between too oblique and obvious drops of exposition, the kind I’d expect in a dime-a-dozen Netflix thriller – and Soderbergh’s vérité direction. His tracking shots and shaky cam, lingering on the mundane details of repetition (turning the key at the front door, following someone through Postmates) gives the series a lived-in feel the dialogue and dense well of secrets do not. The performances, too, often mimic an archetypical scene – strained parenting of a Manhattan teenager who won’t eat his avocado toast, two wives of reconciled brothers ruing old pain over wine – that never quite coheres into the full suspension of disbelief.
I do appreciate, however, that six hours of investment does not produce one grand reveal or secret – there’s no master to this web of shifting loyalties and plans, only those crushed when it inevitably buckles. It feels true to a film-maker long preoccupied with economic inequity and attempts to subvert it, though I can’t imagine many viewers will see all these underwhelming plots through to the finish.
Next week here in Australia we have the second season of The Bear making its return on Disney+. Delayed until July 19 for an inexplicable reason known only to the mouse. Going by my social circles, a lot of folks have already watched the second season. But, with so few options this weekend, if you haven’t watched season one yet, this is a great time to get onto it ahead of the new episodes.
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