Jon Hein knows TV. In the late 1990s, he coined the phrase "Jump the Shark" when he founded the site of the same name. Since then, he's written about television everywhere from The New York Times to TV Guide. In his column for Primetimer, he shares his thoughts on what's new and good on TV and the shows on his radar for the coming week.
The wonderful world of Disney can be a polarizing place. There are the fanatics, and there are the haters. Most people fall somewhere in between.
Disney is for the child in all of us, but don't kid yourself into thinking that only the little ones believe there's a great, big beautiful tomorrow. The parents (and many adults without kids) are fully on board with their favorite mouse. One of my best friends made annual trips to Disneyworld well before meeting his wife and having kids, and he's proud to tell you about it. And don’t think he was spending all his time in The Hall of Presidents.
The world that Walt built has always been a special place. I'm a fan. The best vacation my family ever took was a VIP trip to Disneyworld in Orlando. I'm no fanatic, but I do know what a hidden Mickey is. I enjoy the theme parks, movies, and especially the streaming channel lately.
Disney+ was as sure of a thing as you could find when it premiered. The Disney library, Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar and more... that's can't-miss stuff. I remember back in the day when the Disney "vault" would open up and release videotapes my kids couldn't get enough of.
It always comes down to content, and Disney+ has plenty of that. Their new content is getting people's attention. Disney is parsing out that vault in a variety of ways and creating new programs featuring familiar characters in brand new situations.
The Mandalorian set the bar high early on. Star Wars spinoffs are as difficult to pull off as entertaining movie sequels, but Jon Favreau created one of the best shows of recent memory with the right mix of creative thinking and nostalgia.
WandaVision had a slow burn with twists that got even non-Marvel fans to pay attention. The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers is an entertaining chapter in that puck-loving saga. The Falcon and The Winter Solider is true to Marvel’s winning formula. The Right Stuff took a swing and missed (you're better off with For All Mankind from AppleTV+), but that’s a strong original programming track record for Disney.
The latest Disney+ offering is a comedy starring one of those aforementioned mouse fanatics. Big Shot stars John Stamos who has always loved Disney and isn't shy about it. He's got Walt's phone, a doll from It's A Small World, and other Disney memorabilia right at home.
In Big Shot, America's favorite uncle plays a former men's college basketball coach who loses his temper (and his job), and his only opportunity to stay in the game is at a girls private school in Southern California. The gruff coach learns lessons from his young females and rekindles his spirit of why he got into the game in the first place.
David E. Kelley, who’s been on a roll recently with Big Little Lies, The Undoing and Big Sky, provides a scenario that is poignant and self-aware. Every member of the team comments on how cute the new coach is. Stamos thoroughly enjoys himself as his team and his life improve with each episode.
Disney knows when it has a winning formula, and Big Shot fits its "after-school special with a little bit of edge" niche. It gives its audience exactly what it's looking for, the same type of feeling you get when traveling to Disneyland or Disneyworld. See you on Main Street U.S.A.!
(Shows Premiering That I'm Not A Fan Of But You Might Be!)
Pray, Obey, Kill (HBO) – Five-part documentary about a bizarre Swedish murder back in 2004. Follows The Investigation as part of HBO's global mysterious murder campaign. Watch trailer. Premieres Monday.
Dad Stop Embarrassing Me! (NETFLIX) – Super-talented Jamie Foxx plays a sitcom dad in a series inspired by his relationship with his daughter. Watch trailer. Drops Wednesday.
Younger (PARAMOUNT+) – Back for its seventh season and a reason to get the latest streaming service. Watch trailer. Thursday.
Wahl Street (HBO MAX) – It's Mark Wahlberg's world – we’re just lucky to be living in it. Watch trailer. Premieres Thursday.
56th Annual ACM Awards (CBS) – Another awards show during COVID, but this one features the biggest stars in country music. Airs Sunday.
Couples Therapy (SHOWTIME) – The real-life couples are back, and now it's therapy during COVID. Isn’t there enough depression going around? Watch trailer. Sunday.
THIS WEEK'S PICKS
Everlasting love, shifty European spies and Kate Winslet loses her accent...
My Love (NETFLIX)
Tuesday, April 13th
Who doesn't want to know the secret to everlasting love? These six profiles of long-lasting true love are intended to set us all on the right path.
Six couples from all over the world who have been together a minimum of 40 years get the When Harry Met Sally treatment in this six episode Netflix series. My wife and I celebrate our 30th anniversary this summer, so we didn't qualify for this year's shoot.
A peek into their lives reminds you how much the little things can mean and what it's like to have someone who knows you better than yourself. This is a documentary, and the struggles that await all of us in old age are on full display.
Spy City (AMC+)
Thursday, April 15th
Dominic Cooper plays Fielding Scott, a MI6 agent who goes to Berlin in the early 60's looking for a double agent hiding in plain sight. The Berlin Wall is being built and no one is to be trusted – we are talking prime spy territory.
Cooper continues the sharp-looking James Bond legacy breezing through Berlin in an attempt to get to the bottom of things. I wonder why this six episode series is airing on AMC+ considering what's currently airing on their main channel. Watch trailer.
Mare Of Easttown (HBO)
Sunday, April 18th 10pm
There has been a murder in a small Pennsylvania town that needs to be solved, but the locals are more intriguing that the killing itself. Detective Mare Sheehan is on the case which is a welcome diversion from her usual duties.
An almost unrecognizable Kate Winslet is the tough detective determined to figure out what happened. You'll be asking where that accent went the entire series. The star here is Jean Smart who plays Mare's mother Helen and keeps in her place (or at least tries to).
The pacing is slow. I'm talking The Outsider kind of slow, but without the supernatural stuff. Winslet gives a powerful performance as she works through her own trauma and questions all that she knew growing up... or what she thought she knew.
If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.
Wear two masks. Get vaccinated. Stay healthy and safe.
Jon Hein is the creator of "Jump the Shark" and author of three books. Follow him @jonhein on Twitter.