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Hein’s TV Picks: Fingers Crossed For The Staircase

PLUS: The Pentaverate, Bosch: Legacy, The Wilds Season 2, and more.
  • Colin Firth in The Staircase. (Photo HBO Max)
    Colin Firth in The Staircase. (Photo HBO Max)

    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.

    If you haven’t seen the French documentary series The Staircase, tune in Thursday to watch HBO Max’s starry dramatization of the story spoiler-free. Don't do a Google search, don't ask your friends, just go in cold. You may now skip down to the Season Premieres section below.

    Still reading? Good.

    That means you know that a suburban wife falls down the stairs of her home and dies. Her husband maintains that it was an unfortunate accident, but there's plenty of doubt and only his word to trust. The mystery extends overseas, and many trials take place over the years.

    In its first iteration, a 8-part series released in 2004, The Staircase documented the original trial of accused husband Michael Peterson. The filmmakers returned to the story with two followups in 2012 and 2018 as the legal drama continued to unfold, and the entire 13-part series ultimately found its way to Netflix.

    In keeping with TV’s favorite current trend, the latest version of The Staircase arrives this Thursday, this time with award-winning actors in the lead roles. I usually prefer the documentary to the Hollywood retelling. Most of the time you get Joe vs. Carole instead of Tiger King — great actors and a compelling story, but nowhere near as good as the documentary. The original French series was gripping, and the followups maintained that hold on the audience.

    On rare occasions, the new version can be even better. Colin Firth and Toni Collette are perfectly cast as the leads of this fictionalized take. Juliette Binoche, Parker Posey, Sophie Turner, Michael Stuhlbarg and countless other actors we love to see on screen join them. All the right moves are being made casting-wise.

    Whether the series can build on that remains to be seen. Here's the good news… if we don't like what we see, we can just switch over to Netflix and watch the real thing.

    Here's what else is worth watching this week…

    SEASON PREMIERES

    The Pentaverate (Netflix)
    Thursday, May 6th

    Mike Meyers is back on TV. This time around he's playing a Canadian journalist who digs deep into a secret society that has controlled the world for centuries. Don't worry, he’s also playing seven other characters in this comedic miniseries.

    Meyers is a brilliant comedian who always takes big non-traditional swings. Some have been enormous hits, while others have been misses. I respect that he always tries to do something a little bit different. This six-episode take on the Illuminati will certainly be worth checking out. Watch trailer.

    Bosch: Legacy (Amazon Freevee)
    Friday, May 7th

    Hieronymus Bosch is the gift that keeps on giving, and now we have a new spinoff on the free streaming service network previously known as IMDB TV. Titus Welliver reprises his role as Harry, who has left the LAPD to become a private detective. His daughter is a rookie cop on the force following in dad's footsteps.

    I've read a bunch of the Bosch books and there are plenty of stories still to be told. The conflicted detective is such an enigmatic character, and Welliver continues to deliver an award-winning performance as the lead. Watch trailer.

    The Wilds Season 2 (Amazon)
    Friday, May 6th

    The first season of this drama set the current TV trend for plane crashes involving young athletic females (Yellowjackets owes this show a big thank you). Now the gals are back for season two to explore the aftermath of surviving on a deserted island unaware that they were being monitored all along.

    The Lost parallels are obvious, but this show's Dharma initiative is much more upfront with Rachel Griffiths at the helm. The young actresses play off each other very well as they harbor secrets that perpetuate the Lord of the Flies mystery of their island. This season has a lot of explaining to do as we know who made it and who didn't… I think. Watch trailer.

    FOREIGN AFFAIRS

    Tehran (Apple TV+) – Season 2 of the life of a Mossad hacker who infiltrates Tehran and gets trapped in the city. Glenn Close joins the cast of the Israeli thriller from the creators of Fauda. Friday.

    THIS WEEK’S STIHTGT!
    (Shows That I Hope To Get To!)

    Spring Awakening: Those You've Known (HBO) – The cast reunites 15 years later for a one-night only concert. Tuesday.

    Meltdown: Three Mile Island (Netflix) – Folks who were there recall the horrible accident at the nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania. Wednesday.

    Girls5Eva (Peacock) – Amy Sedaris joins the second season of the reunited pop female singing foursome. Thursday.

    Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Paramount+) – Boldly going where no man has gone before a decade before James T. Kirk takes the bridge. Thursday.

    GREATEST HITS (Really Good Shows You May Have Missed)

    This Week's Pick: Fauda (Netflix) – A retired Israeli defense worker is enjoying retirement on his vineyard when an old enemy reemerges and he gets sucked back into his old world. This drama is as intense as they come, and you can't help but get sucked in to the suspenseful world of Middle Eastern conflict.

    Previous Picks:
    Magic City (Peacock)
    Imposters (Netflix)
    Episodes (Showtime/Hulu)
    For All Mankind (Apple TV+)
    Abbott Elementary (ABC)
    Damages (Hulu)
    Luther (HBO Max)
    Downton Abbey (Netflix)
    Justified (Hulu)
    The Good Wife (Paramount+)
    Freaks & Geeks (Hulu)
    Patriot (Amazon Prime Video)
    Battlestar Galactica (Peacock)
    The Split (Amazon Prime Video)
    Bordertown (Netflix)
    Halt and Catch Fire (AMC+)

    ---

    If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.

    Get vaccinated. Get a booster. Stay healthy and safe!

    Jon Hein is the creator of "Jump the Shark" and author of three books. Follow him @jonhein on Twitter.

    TOPICS: The Staircase (2022), HBO Max, Bosch: Legacy, The Pentaverate, The Staircase (2004), The Wilds, Colin Firth