Paul McGuire Grimes, creator of Paul’s Trip to the Movies, gives us some of his recommendations.
ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL (Netflix)
Get ready for your next Netflix binge with Anatomy of a Scandal. The new British series feels all too relevant and topical regarding conversations on sexual assault and consent. James Whitehouse is a minister in Parliament under Britain’s Prime Minister. He finds himself charged with rape after an extra-marital affair with one of his colleagues is exposed. His wife, Sophie, is thrust into the spotlight knowing her husband may be guilty of these charges. James is brought to court and Kate Woodcroft, a barrister under the Queen’s Counsel, agrees to take on the case knowing her reputation, history, and the Parliament’s image will forever be altered with the trial and verdict.
-Starring: Sienna Miller, Rupert Friend, Michelle Dockery, Naomi Scott, Josette Simon
-Six episodes all releasing Friday, April 15
-Created by David E. Kelley (Big Little Lies, Ally McBeal) and Melissa James Gibson (House of Cards, The Americans) based on the novel by Sarah Vaughn
-This specific story may be fictional, but it will be easy to draw comparisons to other high-profile political sex scandals from Bill Clinton to Brett Kavanaugh to Anthony Weiner
-Director S.J. Clarkson handles the subject matter with great care never leaning into showcasing the salacious end of the scandal. She and the writers present this story through multiple angles giving each of our main characters a voice and story to be told. These are well-rounded characters all adamant in their truths.
-The first episode is purposefully vague about what happened with the affair and when it went from affair to sexual assault. The timelines of consent, privilege, and power is what’s at stake when you look at the full anatomy of this scandal. James was part of a men’s club in college and the dialogue around “boys will be boys” and “it was just sex” and “I was weak” bring up good questions on the role someone’s past has on their future character.
-This story is essentially structured around the trial with the questioning between lawyer and witness offering up the time for flashbacks as the intricacies of the story become clear. There are plenty of secrets revealed throughout leaning into that cliffhanger/binge model of watching. The courtroom scenes are quite captivating and we, the audience, get to be the jury hearing the voices and opinions and interpreting them accordingly. For me, there wasn’t any doubt of what happened between James and Olivia.
RATING: 4 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
PAUL’S SPRING STREAMING SNEAK PEEK!
THE FIRST LADY (Showtime, April 17)
Official synopsis “A revelatory reframing of American leadership through the lens of the First Ladies. Starring Viola Davis as Michelle Obama, Michelle Pfeiffer as Betty Ford and Gillian Anderson as Eleanor Roosevelt, this series delves deep into the Ladies’ personal and political lives. Exploring everything from their journeys to Washington, family life, and world-changing political contributions, the impact of the White House’s women is no longer hidden from view.”
-Premieres April 17 on Showtime, ten episodes releasing weekly
-Starring: Gillian Anderson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Viola Davis, Aaron Eckhart, O-T Fagbenle, Kiefer Sutherland, Ellen Burstyn, Dakota Fanning
-What to glean from the trailer – powerful performances from Anderson, Pfeiffer, and Davis. This will provide an insightful and inside look at the personal and professional roles the First Ladies play while in office and the impact they can have a country.
-This is intended to be an ongoing series with different First Ladies featured each season. Each episode will have all three stories interweaving together throughout the episode. There’s a lot to unpack so I’m hoping the structure doesn’t feel too disjointed.
CAPTIVE AUDIENCE: A REAL AMERICAN HORROR STORY (Hulu, April 21)
Official synopsis: “It began with the abduction of Steven Stayner near Yosemite in 1972, and it ended 27 years later when his brother confessed to four murders a few miles away. In the years between, a TV movie was made, dramatizing the events of Steven’s kidnapping, captivity and heroic escape. This is the true, twisted tale of two brothers—one a star, and the other a supporting character, desperate for a vehicle of his own.”
-Premieres all 3 episodes on April 21, roughly 45 minutes each
-This is a gut-wrenching tragic story that will appeal to anyone who is fascinated by true crime stories.
-You may remember the TV mini-series I Know My First Name is Steven from the 1990s. The movie and book of the same name were based on Steven Stayner’s kidnapping. This docu-series dives in deeper looking at what happened to Steven and the residual impact his kidnapping and the media frenzy around it had on his family.
-Features interviews with Steven’s children, mother, and siblings recounting memories of the events that unfolded. Cast and filmmakers from I Know My First Name is Steven are also featured reading real interviews and transcripts as their counter parts.
-For a family that has inevitably had to relive this story over and over again, Steven’s daughter, Ashley, reminds the audience “We have our own stories.”
-Your heart just sinks knowing the trajectory of this story.
OBI-WAN KENOBI (Disney+, May 25)
Official synopsis: “The story begins 10 years after the dramatic events of “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” where Obi-Wan Kenobi faced his greatest defeat—the downfall and corruption of his best friend and Jedi apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, who turned to the dark side as evil Sith Lord Darth Vader.”
-Premieres May 25 on Disney+ with new episodes releasing weekly. The teaser trailer claims this to be a limited series, but I could see this turning into a reoccurring series if it receives critical and audience praise
-Features the return of Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi), Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader), and Joel Edgerton (Uncle Owen Lars) who were all in the Star Wars prequels and will welcome Kumail Nanjiani, Benny Safdie and O’Shea Jackson Jr to the Star Wars universe.
-What to glean from the trailer – Disney+ is being very coy with the footage they’ve shown, but it is great to see Ewan McGregor back as Ob-Wan Kenobi. This looks like the Star Wars world we’ve come to know and love.
-Iconic composer John Williams who composed the scores for all nine stories films will write the theme to Obi-Wan Kenobi. This will be the first Star Wars Disney+ series he has worked on.
STRANGER THINGS Season 4 Volume 1 (Netflix, May 27)
Official Synopsis: “It’s been six months since the Battle of Starcourt, which brought terror and destruction to Hawkins. Struggling with the aftermath, our group of friends are separated for the first time – and navigating the complexities of high school hasn’t made things any easier. In this most vulnerable time, a new and horrifying supernatural threat surfaces, presenting a gruesome mystery that, if solved, might finally put an end to the horrors of the Upside Down.”
-Volume 1 premieres May 27 with Volume 2 arriving July 1
-The Duffer Brothers (the creators) have created a super-sized new season with nine episodes split up between two volumes. They’ve explained it to be twice the length of any previous season, thousands of specials effects, and the most challenging season to date.
-The entire cast is expected to return along with Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund, joining the fourth season.
-What to glean from the trailer – Our young cast may be separated and placed in a new town away from Hawkins for their safety. Its Spring break, and Eleven is hoping to reunite with Mike. Dr. Sam Owens warns them there is a supernatural war brewing in Hawkins, and Eleven and the gang may be their only hope. Meanwhile, Sheriff Hopper is being held captive in Russia fending off his own enemies.
-The first official trailer has been released along with four little teases offering a glimpse into the different locations we’ll find our characters in this season.