Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Friday, October 22, and Saturday, October 23. All times are Eastern.
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Amazon, Friday, 3:01 a.m., premiere): “[S]hot in secret earlier this year, [Borat 2] tries its best to make some accommodations for this shifted status quo while simultaneously reviving plenty of familiar bits. In its Kazakhstan-set prologue, Subsequent Moviefilm uses the popularity of its predecessor to explain what Borat has been up to all these years: He’s been sentenced to a life of hard labor after the success of his first film proved humiliating for his home country. He gets a shot at redemption with the election of Donald Trump: The installation of a strongman in the highest office of the United States provides an opportunity for Kazakhstan to assert its place on the world stage through, of course, a bizarre form of bribery.” Read the rest of Jesse Hassenger’s film review.
The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix, Friday, 3:01 a.m., complete limited series): The grueling world of competitive chess isn’t the most obvious setting for an escapist tale, but The Queen’s Gambit is a frequently transportive series, filled with lavish set pieces, gorgeous costuming, and all the 1960s pop needledrops Netflix money can buy. Its more straightforward pleasures are offset by producer/writer/director Scott Frank’s meditative—and just as meticulously detailed—approach to period drama. Bridging those two worlds is a masterful performance by Anya Taylor-Joy, who leads the cast as Beth Harmon, a chess prodigy driven as much by her innate talent as her trauma. [Danette Chavez]
Look for the rest of Danette’s review this weekend.
Once Upon A Snowman (Disney+, Friday, 3:01 a.m., premiere): Parents, we are either delighted or grieved to tell you that there’s a new Frozen short out today, and it’s an Olaf origin story. If you’re delighted, we’re delighted. If you just squeezed your eyes shut really hard and then opened them again in hopes that this paragraph would just disappear, our condolences.
The Big Fib (Disney+, Friday, 3:01 a.m., complete first season): Yvette Nicole Brown and her robot sidekick return for another batch of episodes in which kids have to determine actual experts from accomplished liars. You know, life skills.
On The Rocks (Apple TV+, Friday, 3:01 a.m., streaming premiere): “While life within the gilded cage was at least cosmetically glamorous in Coppola’s earlier bittersweet mood pieces, On The Rocks depicts a less romantic, more mundane discontent. The director has made her own belated leap out of the agony and ecstasy of youth, leaving the dreamy pleasures of The Virgin Suicides, Marie Antoinette, and Somewhere to shrink into a blurry dot in the rearview mirror.” Read the rest of A.A. Dowd’s film review.
Bad Hair (Apple TV+, Friday, 3:01 a.m., premiere): “Since the success of his 2014 comedy Dear White People—and the Netflix series it inspired—writer-director Justin Simien has maintained an abiding interest in distilling the complex Black American experience into creative storytelling. Bad Hair, his latest satire, blends his penchant for cultural commentary with horror—a genre that would benefit, one might assume, from his perspective and crafty repartee. But while the comedy aspect of this Sundance standout works in parts, the horror of it all suffers from knotty reasoning and an unclear thesis.” Read the rest of Shannon Miller’s film review.
Bruce Springsteen’s Letter To You (Apple TV+, Friday, 3:01 a.m., premiere): This verité doc includes final performances of quite a few originals from Springsteen’s newest album, which Alex McLevy called “an absolute triumph, one that can take its place alongside the best albums of Springsteen’s long career.” Read the rest of his review.
How To With John Wilson (HBO, Friday, 11 p.m., series premiere): Wilson writes, directs, shoots, produces, and narrates this series, which sees him capturing New York on film covertly while offering life advice. If that sounds weird, then we’ve done our jobs well. Look for more thoughts next week.
Austin City Limits, “Rufus Wainwright” (PBS, Saturday, 11 p.m.): Sound the klaxon for older millennials who love to feel feelings!